US stock market daily report (January 22, 2014, Wednesday)
January 23, 2014, Thursday, 01:06 GMT | 20:06 EST | 05:36 IST | 08:06 SGT
At “The New Digital Context” session Wednesday, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, chief executives from leading tech companies are calling for greater transparency over what user data is collected from governments in the name of security. Participants on the Davos panel welcomed the discussion, even if it is “way overdue”.
Marissa Mayer, CEO for Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) said the Obama administration needs to more clearly identify what kind of data is collected by the U.S. National Security Agency and what they are used for, in order to restore confidence in the sector both in the U.S. and internationally. Mayer said, “We need it so we can help our users understand exactly how many requests we are getting and the range of types of requests we are getting. We need to be able to rebuild trust with our users. Usually when you make a trade-off for privacy, it’s very clear what is being looked for and how the information is being used. When you go through security at the airport or when you sign up for a driver’s license, you know exactly what you are disclosing to the government and you know what you get in exchange. I think what’s murky about some of what’s happening today is that people don’t necessarily know what information is being collected and how it’s being used."
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, Inc (CRM) said, “Only through the concept of transparency will we get back to trust,” he said. “If everybody saw the details [of the surveillance programs] they would probably be completely comfortable. But because we don’t know what the detail is, that’s what causes the concern. How can you trust something you don’t know? Nobody likes the unknown, so that’s why it needs to get opened up.”
Gavin Patterson, CEO for BT Group said 100% privacy would be unlikely, because it would mean 0% national security. Patterson said, “I think when it comes down to it, people recognize they have to give up some of that privacy in order to be protected.”
Randall Stephenson, CEO for AT&T welcomed the transparency debate, noting that users need to dictate themselves how they want to own the data. Stephenson said, “We came out of 9/11 in 2001 and the pendulum really swung toward security. Now people are saying security vs. privacy, there’s a balance here. And I think at the end of the day the customer needs to have a lot to say in where that pendulum sits.
President Barrack Obama announced plans on Friday, to tighten the government’s mass collection of phone data and adopted new privacy protection for non-U.S. citizens. The initiatives got a lukewarm response, with critics saying the president hasn’t done enough to reform the NSA. Obama is expected to ask Congress to set out new rules on how data is stored and used by the NSA. The rules are expected to put stronger controls in place on the wholesale harvesting of mobile phone data and widespread surveillance operations on heads of state and non-U.S. governments.