U.S. President Barack Obama met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and other technology company executives today to discuss government surveillance, according to a report from Politico. Earlier this week, according to the report, the President and his staff began holding confidential meetings about surveillance tactics and topics such as the recent NSA-related controversies with company executives and other members of pertinent organizations.
Those invited were mostly senior executives, including Cook, Stephenson and Cerf, as well as representatives of groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and Gigi Sohn, the leader of Public Knowledge, according to three sources familiar with the meeting. Each declined comment for this story.
The report names AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and former Google Vice President Vint Serf as the other technology community members involved in the meetings. Serf recently was appointed by President Obama to the National Science Board, and Serf is also known as a pioneer of the internet…
In June, claims emerged that the NSA (National Security Agency) has been working with technology companies (including Apple) to pipe directly into user data via a “PRISM” program. The government reportedly would use this data to monitor activity. For its part, the NSA has said these reports have “inaccuracies.” Following these reports, Apple issued a strong denial, stating that it has never heard of PRISM. Apple has even posted a message on its website outlining its security practices.
While specific details from today’s White House meeting have not been revealed, an official told Politico that the meeting is in “response to the president’s directive to have a national dialogue about how to best protect privacy in a digital era, including how to respect privacy while defending our national security.”
Last weekend, President Obama vetoed an ITC ruling that would have seen select Apple iPhone and iPad models banned from being distributed in the United States. Tim Cook has also been a special guest at some of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses.