October 08,2014

Press Contact:

Keith Chu: 202-224-3789

Wyden, Top Tech Executives: End Mass Surveillance to Boost Digital Economy

Executives Say NSA Overreach Harms U.S. Exports, Consumer Confidence

PALO ALTO, CA –Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and executives from Dropbox, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft today said immediately ending dragnet surveillance will provide an economic booster shot to the U.S. tech sector and make America more competitive in the global digital economy.

The tech leaders said mass surveillance has cost American tech companies profits, sales and exports to growing markets around the world.

"When the actions of a foreign government threaten red-white-and-blue jobs, Washington gets up at arms. But, even today, almost no one in Washington is talking about how overly broad surveillance is hurting the US economy,” Wyden said.

“Let me be clear: It is time to end the digital dragnet, which harms American liberty and the American economy without making the country safer.”

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Microsoft Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch, Dropbox General Counsel Ramsey Homsany, and John Lilly of the venture capital firm Greylock Partners spoke at the roundtable. These tech industry leaders agreed that ending overreaching spying programs is a necessary first step to restoring the values of America’s digital brand, and improving consumer trust.

Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Microsoft:

“People won’t use technology they don’t trust. Globally we need better ways to protect public safety, preserve our fundamental freedoms, and promote privacy and trust. Today’s roundtable is helping forward that important global conversation.”

Colin Stretch, General Counsel, Facebook:

"We continue to believe meaningful surveillance reform is critical to restoring people’s faith in the Internet. The government has a vital role to play in keeping the public safe, but we believe they can do this while being more transparent about their actions.  That’s why we'll continue to work with leaders like Senator Wyden and his colleagues in Congress to address all of the reforms necessary to restore confidence in the internet.”

Ramsey Homsany, General Counsel, Dropbox:

“Users around the world trust Dropbox to be a home for their most important information. Safeguarding that information is a top priority for us and our business. We’ll keep working hard on our users’ behalf, but we also need Congress to pass the USA Freedom Act so the law does its part to protect their information.”

It has been estimated that the National Security Agency’s mass collection of personal communications will cost U.S cloud computing firms up to $35 billion over just the next few years. Foreign countries are already using the existence of intrusive spying programs as an excuse to shut out U.S. companies.

The roundtable was held in the gymnasium of Wyden’s alma mater, Palo Alto High School, where he played high school basketball.

Wyden’s opening remarks can be found here. Video of the event is available here