- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The nation’s leading technology companies took their concerns over government surveillance directly to the source Tuesday, pressing President Obama to rein in what is widely viewed as excessive and intrusive data-collection and snooping.

Following a nearly two-and-a-half hour meeting with Mr. Obama, a coalition of more than a dozen technology firms — including Google, Yahoo, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and others — said the administration must follow up on the meeting by taking concrete action.

“We appreciated the opportunity to share directly with the president our principles on government surveillance that we released last week and we urge him to move aggressively on reform,” the companies said in a joint statement following the White House meeting, which also included discussions about improvements to the HealthCare.Gov website and other issues.

Many of the companies at Tuesday’s meeting signed on to last week’s letter to the president and congressional leaders, which said government surveillance efforts — now in the spotlight following disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden — must be “clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight.”

Companies such as Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and others also now say they will use the “latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks,” a clear and public rebuke of controversial government data-collection programs.

After the meeting, the administration indicated it will take the technology sector’s concerns into account as it conducts an ongoing review of government surveillance programs.

“The president made clear his belief in an open, free and innovative internet and listened to the group’s concerns and recommendations, and made clear that we will consider their input as well as the input of other outside stakeholders as we finalize our review,” the White House said in a statement.

The meeting came just one day after a federal judge said Monday that the NSA’s secret phone-snooping program violates Americans’ privacy rights.

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