Silicon Valley has been largely speaking out as of late against the United States government’s controversial surveillance programs, but some say the nation’s top cyber firms are scared that their own abilities to collect info could soon be eroded.
Months into the ongoing and always heated debate about the US National Security Agency’s spy operations, President Barack Obama said last December that he had appointed a small panel of experts to assess the NSA programs in question that had been exposed after former contractor Edward Snowden started to disclose classified documents earlier that year. That review group has since presented a few dozen recommendations to the White House, and last month Pres. Obama asked Congress to codify into law changes concerning the way that the US government gets access to certain sensitive records — namely the telephony metadata created by telecommunication companies and currently gathered in bulk by the NSA, as exposed by Mr. Snowden.
In January, however, the president also said a separate group would reach out to privacy experts, technologists and business leaders to inspect the way that “big data” is created, collected and used by both the public and private sector, and “whether we can forge international norms on how to manage this data and how we can continue to promote the free flow of information in ways that are consistent with both privacy and security.”
Ultimately, Obama said at the time, “[W]hat’s at stake in this debate goes far beyond a few months of headlines or passing tensions in our foreign policy.”