Silicon Valley Responds To Obama's NSA Proposals

On Friday, President Obama delivered a speech outlining his proposed reforms of the National Security Agency's surveillance practices. In All Tech Considered, our weekly look at technology, we explore how the speech was received by many of the big tech companies in Silicon Valley.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

We begin this hour with our weekly look at technology, All Tech Considered. And we'll start with how President Obama's speech on Friday about NSA surveillance is playing in Silicon Valley. Among other things, the president called for new limits on the program under which the NSA sweeps up stored Internet communications.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Specifically, I'm asking the attorney general and DNI to institute reforms that place additional restrictions on government's ability to retain, search and use in criminal cases communications between Americans and foreign citizens incidentally collected under Section 702.

BLOCK: Well, to many of the big tech firms, the president's speech fell short. One representative for the industry called the measures thoughtful but insufficient. President Obama spoke of protecting the privacy of individuals, but he did little to guarantee the same for tech companies. In fact, he pointed out that people shouldn't only be worried about the government snooping on them.

OBAMA: Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data, and use it for commercial purposes. That's how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically.

BLOCK: Back in December, eight tech giants - AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo - sent an open letter to Washington. The companies urged reform of government surveillance practices worldwide, asking the president and Congress for more transparency and oversight. In response to Friday's speech, those tech companies released a statement approving of the idea of more accountability but, they said, much more still needs to be done.

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