Tech Companies to Obama: We Need a Cap on Government Spying

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Executives from various big-name technology companies met with President Barack Obama this week to discuss government interference and data collection within their online realm. The meeting follows an open letter sent from Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). “It is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information,” read the letter.

According to Bloomberg, an industry official said that the executive’s meeting with Obama had not exactly born fruit — no commitment was made to put a cap on government spying. The executives involved in the meeting included Marrissa Mayer from Yahoo, and Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, as well as five other tech industry heads.

Yahoo’s Chief Executive Officer, Mayer, told the president that the government’s invasion into users privacy might have a divisive effect on international internet usage — countries could have conflicting policies — an industry official told Bloomberg.

Edward Snowden, former National Security Agency contractor, sparked heavy controversy and concern when he released private government documents revealing just how much the government is involved in tech surveillance on our nation’s home turf. With national focus drawn to the issue of privacy through Snowden’s release, Obama has security and privacy policy concerns on his plate — and companies are putting pressure on him as well.

“They see real risk to their market share. You’ve got German, Chinese, even Russian companies saying ‘Hey, buy from us, that way you won’t be at risk.’ It’s crazy. That’s what this has become — an opportunity for commercial advantage as well as an uproar over privacy,” said James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies to Bloomberg. According to Bloomberg, reports show that companies could lose around $35 billion in revenue through 2016 as a result of low security confidence in their systems.

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