When U.S. President Obama sits down to discuss cybersecurity with Silicon Valley leaders Friday, some key people won't be at the table. CEOs from Google, Facebook and Yahoo will not attend, evidence of the open frustration throughout the tech industry with the government’s data-collection methods.
Obama plans to meet with a who’s who of CEOs from major technology and financial institutions to address the fallout from the recent devastating hacks on Sony Pictures, Target and Anthem Insurance, which compromised the personal information of millions of users. He’s scheduled to share more information about data protection in a speech at Stanford University before also signing an executive order encouraging companies to share more data with one another.
Chief executives from Bank of America, Visa, AIG and a number of other companies will be on hand, and Apple CEO Tim Cook will give an address, but Facebook, Google and Yahoo won’t attend the Stanford conference out of their longtime contention that law enforcement is too broad in their requests for information about users, that the companies are forbidden from being transparent with users, and that American surveillance is stifling corporate growth overseas.
FBI Director James Comey recently suggested that Congress put laws in place that would make the passcode encryption now available on Apple and Google smartphones illegal.
“What has struck me is the enormous degree of hostility between Silicon Valley and the government,” Herb Lin, who moved to Stanford after spending 20 years working on cyber problems with the National Academy of Sciences, told the New York Times. “The relationship has been poisoned, and it’s not going to recover anytime soon.”
Obama has highlighted the importance of American cybersecurity of late, asking Congress to do more on the issue and dedicating part of his Jan. 20 State of the Union speech to better security techniques.