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Netflix Meets With Obama Over Electronic Spying

18 Dec, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Meeting follows a federal judge's ruling criticizing the NSA's surveillance program

Netflix officials joined executives from Apple, Comcast, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, AT&T, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Twitter in a meeting with President Obama to discuss concerns regarding government surveillance of domestic and foreign electronic communications.

The Dec. 17 meeting came after U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the National Security Agency’s practice of monitoring select phone records of Americans violates the Constitution and represents a “grave danger to American democracy.”

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval,” Leon wrote in his ruling.

The Obama Administration has argued that the surveillance — begun following 9/11 — is for national security purposes.

Netflix, whose lobbying efforts last year helped amend the Video Privacy Protection Act enabling subscribers to voluntarily disclose their rental viewing habits on social media outlets such as Facebook, met with Obama to underscore the importance of user-privacy.

"We appreciated the opportunity to share directly with the president our principles on government surveillance that we released last week and we urge him to move aggressively on reform," the companies said in a joint statement.

In an open letter last week to Obama, the tech companies cited revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden they said underscore the need to curb government surveillance efforts around the world.

Netflix, of course, is rapidly expanding its SVOD footprint overseas and in Latin America, with service in more than 40 countries.

The White House said the president made clear his belief in an open, free and innovative Internet and listened to the group's concerns and recommendations.

“We will consider their input as well as the input of other outside stakeholders as we finalize our review of signals-intelligence programs,” the White House announced.

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