Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg blasted the US government’s digital surveillance activities on Wednesday, saying it had failed to strike a correct balance between security and privacy issues.

“I think they did a bad job balancing those things here,” Mr. Zuckerberg said at the TechCrunch in San Francisco. “Frankly, I think the government blew it.” Mr. Zuckerberg criticized initial US claims that the digital spying was limited to foreign nationals.

“Wonderful, that’s really helpful for companies trying to work with people around the world,” he said. “Thanks for going out there and being clear. I think that was really bad.” Mr. Zuckerberg’s comments came two days after Facebook and Google petitioned the government’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for permission to publish more information on the requests they receive from security agencies.

“We aren’t psyched we had to sue,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “We just take this really seriously.” Facebook, Google and other major technology companies found themselves in the privacy spotlight following the release of information by intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who claimed that the US government was able to access practically all online data.

“The actions and statements of the US government have not adequately addressed the concerns of people around the world about whether their information is safe and secure with internet companies,” Facebook general counsel Colin Streth said.

“We believe there is more information that the public deserves to know, and that would help foster an informed debate about whether government security programmes adequately balance privacy interests when attempting to keep the public safe.”