Policy: Technology

Obama, tech leaders to discuss NSA, health care website

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Google,Facebook,Health Care,National Security,PennAve,NSA,Twitter,Meghashyam Mali,Apple,Healthcare.gov,Technology

President Obama will meet with technology-industry leaders on Tuesday to discuss the healthcare.gov website and National Security Agency surveillance programs, the White House announced.

Among the 15 Silicon Valley executives meeting with the president are Apple CEO Tim Cook, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Netflix Co-founder and CEO Chad Dickerson, Yahoo’s President Marissa Mayer, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

“President Obama will meet with executives from leading tech companies to discuss progress made in addressing performance and capacity issues with healthcare.gov and how government can better deliver IT to maximize innovation, efficiency and customer service,” said a White House official about the meeting on Monday.

“The meeting will also address national security and the economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures,” the official added. “Finally, the President will discuss ways his Administration can partner with the tech sector to further grow the economy, create jobs and address issues around income inequality and social mobility.”

The meeting comes as Obama reviews recommendations from an outside task force which reviewed the NSA's controversial spying programs. The agency's surveillance of phone and internet traffic became public after leaks from former government contractor Edward Snowden.

The president has defended the NSA’s surveillance as critical to national security but said he would also review the practices and take steps to increase transparency and better protect Americans’ civil liberties.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama had received the task force’s report and would announce any changes in January after a review.

In an open letter earlier in December, leaders from AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and other Silicon Valley giants called for “the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information.”

Earlier Monday critics of the NSA scored a victory when a federal judge ruled that the agency’s collection of phone call metadata was unconstitutional. The court though placed the ruling on hold pending a likely appeal.

Obama has also turned to the tech industry to rescue the flawed healthcare.gov website responsible for enrolling consumers in new Obamacare insurance exchanges.

The website was launched Oct. 1 with numerous technical problems that undercut enrollment and the public’s support for Obama’s signature achievement.

The administration declared the website working “smoothly” for the vast majority of users after a two-month “tech surge.” But insurers say the website is still plagued by back-end issues that could prevent consumers from receiving coverage.

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