Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg blasted U.S. government surveillance measures on Thursday and said he had personally called President Barack Obama to protest.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s rant on his personal Facebook page came a day after reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) had impersonated Facebook servers to infect targeted computers with malware. The NSA has in recent months been implicated by whistleblower Edward Snowden in a massive range of digital surveillance programs.
“I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behaviour of the U.S. government,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. “When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.” “I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future.” he continued. “Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”
Mr. Zuckerberg’s protest coincided with a more nuanced approach by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates who decried Snowden’s actions and maintained that some government surveillance capability was needed over the web.
“I think he broke the law, so I certainly wouldn’t characterise him as a hero,” Mr. Gates said in Rolling Stone magazine.
“You won’t find much admiration from me,” Mr. Gates said, adding that Snowden’s actions had compromised those necessary security capabilities, and that he would have had greater support for Snowden “if he wanted to raise the issues and stay in the country and engage in civil disobedience or something of that kind, or if he had been careful in terms of what he had released.”
“The debate needs to be about the general notion of under what circumstances should they be allowed to do things,” he said. “The people who say that sometimes having this information is valuable — they’re not being very articulate right now.