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Obama to meet tech leaders on Healthcare.gov site, surveillance

The meeting follows waves of disclosures related to government surveillance

By Zach Miners, IDG News Service
December 16, 2013 08:37 PM ET

IDG News Service - U.S. President Barack Obama, hoping to repair some of the damage wrought by the troubled Healthcare.gov site, will meet with executives from technology companies including Yahoo and Twitter on Tuesday.

 
Barack Obama, U.S. president
Grant Gross/screen shot
U.S. President Barack Obama announces sanctions for the export of monitoring technology to Syria and Iran.
 

CEOs including Tim Cook of Apple, Dick Costolo of Twitter and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo -- as well as Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt -- will meet with the president to discuss new strategies for improving the functioning of the Healthcare.gov site, which was inaccessible for many users following its Oct. 1 launch, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Yahoo and Twitter confirmed the attendance of their executives.

Figuring out a way for the government to deliver better IT to improve customer service was one item on the agenda, the report said.

In addition to discussing health care delivery, the meeting will let the technology executives express their concerns about the U.S. government's surveillance programs, the report said. The development of new partnerships between government and industry to boost economic growth will also be discussed.

The White House could not be immediately reached to comment; nor could Google or Apple.

The meeting comes as a wave of disclosures related to government spying efforts have strained the IT industry's relationship with Washington. National security concerns prompted by the leaks will also be a focus of the meeting, the report said.

Since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the existence of data collection programs such as Prism in June, Internet companies have seen their reputations tarnished. In response, companies including Google and Microsoft have lobbied the government for freedom to reveal more about the user data requests they receive from authorities. Those efforts have been largely unsuccessful so far.

The meeting comes a week after a range of technology companies jointly penned a letter to Obama and members of Congress asking governments around the world to reform their surveillance laws and practices.

"The tech executives look forward to the opportunity to share directly with the president the principles for surveillance reform that they laid out last week, and urge him to move aggressively on reform," according to a statement from one company participating in Tuesday's meeting, which asked not to be identified.

Fifteen technology executives in total will attend Tuesday's meeting, the Journal said. Also included on the list are Drew Houston, CEO at Dropbox; Sheryl Sandberg , chief operating officer at Facebook; and Randall Stephenson, CEO at AT&T.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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