Security

Obama Heads to Silicon Valley to Discuss Hacking Threats With CEOs

Obama Heads to Silicon Valley to Discuss Hacking Threats With CEOs

U.S. President Barack Obama

Image credit: Reuters | Kevin Lamarque

President Barack Obama will meet with chief executive officers on Friday at a summit in Silicon Valley held by the White House that aims to build support for beefing up cyber security laws in the wake of massive hacks at Target Corp, Sony Corp and Anthem Inc.

Obama will make the case that the private sector and government need to do more to share data about cyber threats in a speech before a crowd of more than 1,000 people from corporations as well as privacy and civil liberties advocates.

"By getting this right, businesses and people around the world will continue to want to store data with American companies, do business with American retailers, bank with American firms and carry around American smartphones and other devices," Jeff Zients, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters.

Obama will give a speech at 11:20 a.m. PST (1820 GMT).

He will also meet privately with a small group of business leaders, part of an effort to mend fences with tech companies still angry over damage to their businesses when government surveillance practices were exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Upset about the lack of reforms to those practices, the CEOS of Google Inc, Facebook Inc and Yahoo Inc are not attending the Stanford conference. But Apple Inc's chief executive, Tim Cook, will give an address.

A long roster of other CEOs will attend, including those from Bank of America, American International Group and Visa.

Obama is set to sign an executive order aimed at encouraging companies to share more cyber threat data with the government and each other.

And he will urge Congress to pass legislation that would offer liability protection to companies sharing cyber threat data.

"I think a lot of companies are still uneasy about jumping into the debate now," said Michael Gottlieb, a former associate White House counsel for Obama.

"Unless more work is done to give a lot of these companies greater comfort, they may not be as enthusiastic about supporting those bills, so you may not get the level of Republican support that you need as a result," said Gottlieb, who now specializes in data privacy and cyber security law at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in Washington, D.C.

On the flip side, privacy and consumer rights advocates want to make sure companies are held accountable for data breaches that could have been averted, Gottlieb noted.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Menn, Jim Finkle and Warren Strobel; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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