Apple's Tim Cook, other tech leaders meet with U.S. President Obama, discuss NSA spying concerns

Apple's Tim Cook, other tech leaders meet with U.S. President Obama, discuss NSA spying concerns

U.S. President Barack Obama met with Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, as well as AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Google computer scientist Vint Cerf (no Larry Page or Eric Schmidt?), as well as other leading technologists, civil libertarians, and concerned parties regarding the recent controversy surrounding NSA spying on citizens via the services they use. The meeting was held behind closed doors, but Tony Romm and Michelle Quinn share the following on Politico:

The session, which Obama attended himself, followed a similar gathering earlier this week between top administration officials, tech-industry lobbyists and leading privacy hawks, the sources said. Those earlier, off-the-record discussions centered on the controversy surrounding the NSA as well as commercial privacy issues such as online tracking of consumers.

The Obama administration has reportedly promised a greater and more public dialog about the alleged practices and privacy violations. What if anything comes of it remains to be seen. Especially considering trust once broken is impossible to fully replace - how could any government prove they ever stopped spying on their citizens?

And if any government - because it's beyond naive to think the U.S. is the only country in which this is happening - wants to continue widespread domestic surveillance programs, make it the law of the land and then run on that law. Don't reveal details, of course, but tell the people the broad strokes of what's happening - that their electric privacy no longer exists - send it through the appropriate legislative bodies, and then let the people hold whichever side they agree with accountable.

Otherwise you lose what it is you're trying so desperately to protect - by giving it away yourself.

More on Cook et al.'s meeting via the link below.

Source: Politico

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple's Tim Cook, other tech leaders meet with U.S. President Obama, discuss NSA spying concerns


It is a very fine line when talking about what should and shouldn't be revealed to the public. Releasing VERY basic information isn't a terrible idea, though I don't know how far is too far. But as you said, electronic privacy basically doesn't exist, and those in government should just admit this. They won't for political reasons unfortunately.

The message that everyone should take away from these stories is that nothing electronic is private. Period. If it is digital, it can be shared, stolen, hacked, leaked, spread, etc.

One of the tenents of government in the United States is having separation of powers. Then those separate powers are the checks and balances on one another. This should, in theory, protect the citizens. Unfortunately, it seems as if there are no checks and balances on the privacy invasions we have read about. Sure, there could be (depending on where you read it) FISA court involvement but with everything sealed and no one allowed to speak publically there will never be a way to know that this is being handled properly.

They're going to need to come out of that meeting with some serious apologies and answers. The world's businesses and any sensible person in the world will already be looking to find alternative clouds, search services, mail systems, file transfer services, encryption methods etc. in their own countries now. Now that we all understand what is going on, the Internet is going to have to radically change.