High-tech summit keeps focus on NSA reform

High-tech leaders meeting at the White House with U.S. President Barack Obama kept the Tuesday meeting focused on reining in digital surveillance by the National Security Agency, an executive told The Guardian.

Obama had publicly positioned the meeting as a wide-ranging one, including a focus on issues with the Web site infrastructure.

“We are there to talk about the NSA,” said an executive of one of the companies represented at the meeting. The technology who’s who assembled included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and senior representatives from Comcast, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Netflix and of AT&T.

A recent review of the NSA’s activities stopped short of recommending reforms to President Obama on electronic spying on foreigners and mass collection of U.S. telephone data.

In the backlash over revelations by NSA contractor Edward Snowden of the extent of NSA’s data collection, high-tech companies have been urging the government to rein in the NSA electronic eavesdropping. A report released by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) claims U.S. cloud computing companies could lose $35 billion as customers flock to Europe over concerns metadata is being collected from U.S. companies.

Meanwhile, some tech companies are taking concrete action.

Cloud application vendor NetSuite has accelerated the construction of planned overseas data centres over customer concerns about data collection by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), says the Silicon Valley Business Journal. CEO Zach Nelson said European and Asian customers are growing concerned about whether the U.S. government could access sensitive information.

Microsoft also recently announced it would encrypt traffic over fibre lines between data centres for fear of interception.

While it’s been speculated that the Snowden leaks could benefit data centres in Canada, recent revelations might dampen trust in Canadian intelligence agencies. A Canadian intelligence agency spied electronically on trading partners for the U.S., and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is suing the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), claiming the agency is collecting data on Canadians in electronic investigations of foreign targets.

Read the full story on the Guardian.


Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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