Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post to the social network Thursday that he called President Obama in exasperation at the threat he believes mass surveillance poses to the future of the Internet.
“I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform,” Zuckerberg writes. In a statement, the White House confirmed the conversation took place.
In his open letter, Zuckerberg, laments the damage he believes state surveillance — and the National Security Agency’s systematic work to crack encrypted privacy protections — does to the future of the Internet.
“The Internet is our shared space. It helps us connect. It spreads opportunity,” he writes. “This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”
Zuckerberg has been vocal in the past about his displeasure with the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. In closing his note, he seems to implicitly endorse the work of nongovernmental groups developing technological tools that circumvent state surveillance. “So it’s up to us — all of us — to build the Internet we want. Together, we can build a space that is greater and a more important part of the world than anything we have today, but is also safe and secure,” he writes.
If Zuckerberg’s comments ring familiar it’s because Edward Snowden, speaking at the South by Southwest Interactive technology festival this week, said something similar. “They’re setting fire to the future of the Internet,” Snowden said, “and the people that are in this room now — you guys are the firefighters.”