Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. Apple Inc. used ‘loopholes’ to avoid paying $9 billion in U.S. taxes in 2012, U.S. Senator Carl Levin said. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama quietly met with the CEOs of Apple Inc, AT&T Inc as well as other technology and privacy representatives on Thursday to discuss government surveillance, according to a media report.
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, Politico said late Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter.
The session was not included on Obama’s daily public schedule for Thursday.
The closed-door meeting followed another private session on Tuesday between top Obama administration officials, industry lobbyists and privacy advocates, Politico reported, adding that the latest meeting “was organized with greater secrecy.”
One administration aide characterized Tuesday’s meeting was as part of a larger outreach effort, Politico said.
“This is one of a number of discussions the administration is having with experts and stakeholders 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,” the official told the news outlet.
This report comes after revelations about the U.S. government’s secret surveillance tactics detailed in various media reports from information disclosed by fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Tuesday’s meeting 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, Politico said, citing sources.
Groups invited to Thursday’s meeting included representatives from privacy groups such as the Center for Democracy and Technology, Politico said, citing sources familiar with the meeting. Gigi Sohn, the head of another similar group, Public Knowledge, was also invited, it said.
White House representatives and those for the tech companies and privacy groups could not be immediately reached to comment on Politico’s report. Politico said the White House, companies and groups have all declined to comment.
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