WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama met with the CEOs of Apple Inc, AT&T Inc as well as other technology and privacy representatives on Thursday to discuss government surveillance in the wake of revelations about the programs, the White House confirmed on Friday.
Google Inc computer scientist Vint Cerf and civil liberties leaders also participated in the meeting, along with Apple’s Tim Cook and AT&T’s Randall Stephenson, the White House said in confirming a report by Politico, which broke the news of the meeting.
"The meeting was part of the ongoing dialogue the president has called for on how to respect privacy while protecting national security in a digital era," a White House official said.
The session was not included on Obama’s daily public schedule for Thursday.
Groups invited to Thursday’s meeting included Gigi Sohn, the head of the privacy group Public Knowledge, as well as representatives from other similar organizations such as the Center for Democracy and Technology, the White House confirmed.
Thursday’s closed-door meeting followed another private session on Tuesday between Obama administration officials, industry lobbyists and privacy advocates.
The meetings follow revelations about the U.S. government’s secret surveillance tactics over emails and telephone data detailed in various media reports from information disclosed by fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Obama is likely to face questions about the National Security Agency and the government’s phone and electronic monitoring at his news conference later on Friday.
Since the programs were revealed in June, the president has repeatedly said he would encourage a national conversation on the need for U.S. surveillance while respecting people’s right to privacy.
Critics have blasted the administration for the scope of the surveillance and blamed Congress for not carrying out proper oversight. Some lawmakers have vowed to push legislation calling for more accountability for the programs.
Tuesday’s session included representatives from tech lobbying groups Information Technology Industry Council, TechNet and TechAmerica as well as The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the White House confirmed.