Zynga president Mark Pincus and other tech leaders met with President Obama, arguing that the revelations of the NSA’s surveillance programs are hurting business.
Executives from Apple, Twitter, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook were gathered in the White House, where the President sought their help in unraveling the problems with the recently launched HealthCare.gov, but the industry leaders had something else in mind.
"We didn’t fly across the country for a discussion on HealthCare.gov," one executive told CNN.
Instead, the executives focused on the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program revealed by the leaks of Edward Snowden that involves many of their companies’ services.
Many companies were particularly incensed over the allegations that the NSA hacked into their overseas communications even after complying with the agency’s directives – a fact that has caused many consumers to mistrust companies that rely on access to user data for business.
Pincus, who founded Zynga but has since handed over the CEO role to former Xbox headman Don Mattrick, reportedly went so far as to ask Obama to pardon Snowden, but the President said that wasn’t possible.
For many companies in Silicon Valley Snowden’s leaks haven’t just been damaging because they show the NSA has access to user data, but show the companies themselves are complicit in the snooping.
The games sector is fast adopting the services model of these companies over the titular release model of Hollywood, so the need to be able to secure user data – even from the user’s own government – is becoming a key concern.
The President allegedly promised reforms to the NSA’s surveillance programs would be revealed in January.
One source added that President Obama didn’t offer a full defense of the NSA’s activities, causing some dismay among the executives.