WASHINGTON, March 21 Executives of several large
U.S. Internet companies, including Google Inc and
Facebook Inc, will meet with President Barack Obama on
Friday to discuss changes to government surveillance programs.
The White House said Obama is meeting with tech leaders to
"continue his dialogue with them on the issues of privacy,
technology, and intelligence following his Jan. 17 speech."
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Facebook Chief
Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has been critical of U.S.
government surveillance practices, will attend the meeting,
according to company sources. The White House has not released a
full list of attendees of the meeting, which is scheduled to
start in the Oval Office at 16:05 ET (20:05 GMT).
Twitter Inc representatives were not attending the
meeting and LinkedIn Corp executives could not attend
due to scheduling conflicts, according to the companies'
Politico, a Washington-focused news website, has reported
that Yahoo Inc CEO Marissa Mayer also could not attend
the meeting because of a scheduling conflict. Yahoo declined
comment. An industry source said invitations to Friday's event
were received on March 15.
Technology companies have been pushing for more
transparency, oversight and restrictions to U.S. government's
gathering of intelligence and have formed a coalition called
Reform Government Surveillance. The coalition's representative
could not be immediately reached.
In his January speech, Obama outlined a series of limited
reforms to data gathering by the National Security Agency, the
banning of U.S. eavesdropping on the leaders of allied countries
and changes to how NSA treats telephone and digital data of U.S.
Last month, technology companies also reached an agreement
with the Obama administration allowing them to give the public
and their customers more detail about the court orders they
receive related to government surveillance.
The changes come in the wake of leaks to the news media from
former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the secret U.S.
Previous media reports based on secret documents leaked by
Snowden have detailed how the U.S. government may have tapped
into communications cables that link data centers owned by
Google and Yahoo, intercepting user data without the companies'
knowledge or cooperation.
Zuckerberg last week said he had telephoned Obama to express
his displeasure with U.S. surveillance practices.
"I've called President Obama to express my frustration over
the damage the government is creating for all of our future.
Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for
true full reform," Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook
The NSA has pushed back against the media reports relying on
Snowden leaks, calling many of them inaccurate and generally the
spying programs are critical to U.S. national security.
Snowden is wanted in the United States on espionage charges
and is living in asylum in Russia.
Obama and top aides privately met with a similar group of
executives in December, and was urged to rein in the
government's electronic spying.
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh in Washington and Alexei Oreskovic
in San Francisco,; Editing by Ros Krasny and Stephen Powell)