Obama’s security summit “snubbed” by tech leaders

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Apple appears to be one of the few companies willing to play ball with the US government’s proposed surveillance and security rules, with CEOs of Facebook, Microsoft and Google conspicuously absent from an Obama-led industry event.

Revelations by ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that the US gathers intelligence from social networks, e-commerce systems and other websites not caused an international outcry over consumer privacy.

Rather than scale back surveillance, the Obama administration is insisting that companies and websites that routinely collect customer data or facilitate communications and transactions between individuals will have to make this information available to the NSA. Plans announced at the summit show that the government is reluctant to tell companies how this data will be stored or used, making it a hard sell to their customers.

Implications for the business community are severe. Many tech entrepreneurs are fearful that foreign companies will turn down partnerships if they are unable to show their own governments that they are adhering to national privacy laws. Some may even find that they are deemed to be national security risks in their own country by facilitating US spying. Whether or not there is basis in these fears, the uncertainty hardly makes the US (or the UK, which is following similar measures) an attractive option for overseas investors in online tech.

Since payment innovators typically operated across national borders, and often in partnership with companies overseas, they are likely to be hardest hit.

The unpopularity of the US rhetoric was demonstrated in the fact that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page of Google CEO and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer all avoided the security and customer protection summit, despite its high profile, in what is thought to be a silent protest.

However, while Apple is also opposed to the measures, CEO Tim Cook did attend the summit and said that the company would partner with the federal government in order to gain traction for Apple Pay.

According to IT Portal, Apple Pay’s payment system “will be integrated into Social Security and veterans’ benefits cards in the future and there are also plans to make it a payment method for entry into national parks.

 

 

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