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Tech industry: Obama's NSA reforms 'insufficient'

| Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 6:18 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — Technology companies and industry groups took President Obama's speech on surveillance as a step in the right direction, but chided him for not embracing more dramatic reforms to protect people's privacy and the economic interests of American companies that generate most of their revenue overseas.

“The president's speech was empathetic, balanced and thoughtful, but insufficient to meet the real needs of our globally connected world and a free Internet,” said Ed Black, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a group that represents Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other technology companies upset about the NSA's broad surveillance of online communications.

On Friday, Obama called for ending the government's control of phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans and ordered intelligence agencies to get a court's permission before accessing such records. He issued a directive that intelligence gathering can't be employed to suppress criticism of the United States or gain a competitive advantage for companies.

Eight of the world's best-known technology companies underscored their common interest in curbing the NSA by releasing a joint, measured critique of Obama's proposal.

They applauded the commitment to more transparency and more privacy protections for non-U.S. citizens, but stressed that the president did not address all of their concerns.

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