Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Mayer field questions about Prism

Zuckerberg said the US government 'blew it' while Mayer said revealing details about the programs would be 'treason'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on September 11, 2013.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on September 11, 2013.

The CEOs of Yahoo and Facebook were each on the hot seat Wednesday answering questions about the U.S. government's data surveillance programs.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, in an on-stage interview at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, said she couldn't say more about the programs than Yahoo already has because doing so could be "treason."

"We can't talk about these things because they're classified," she said.

Pressed by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington about what would happen if she revealed details about the government's data requests, Mayer said she could go to prison.

"It makes sense for us to work within the system," she said. For Yahoo, Mayer said, that means examining each request it receives and pushing back if it seems unreasonable.

In a separate interview, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was more outspoken. The U.S. government "blew it" by not communicating better about its surveillance efforts and made it harder for U.S. Internet firms to do business overseas, he said.

"It's our government's job to protect all of us, and also to protect our freedom and the economy, and I think they did a bad job of balancing those things," Zuckerberg said.

"I think the government blew it," he said.

The U.S. government, when asked about the surveillance programs, has said it was not spying on American citizens, Zuckerberg noted. That wasn't helpful to Internet companies that do business overseas, he said.

"I think that was really bad."

Both executives highlighted their efforts to push for greater transparency, and both said their goal is to protect their users. Both companies, along with Google and Microsoft, have filed lawsuits to force the government to let them disclose how many national security-related data requests they receive.

Those efforts have so far been unsuccessful. Earlier this week, the companies asked again for permission to provide more information about the data requests.

The latest round of leaks revealing U.S. government surveillance programs, including a data collection program known as Prism, were published in June by the Guardian and The Washington Post.

Since then, tech firms have come under scrutiny for the extent of their involvement with the government programs, and to what extent they have cooperated. They have all said they have cooperated only to the extent they are required to legally.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags social mediaMicrosoftinternetGoogleFacebooksearch enginessocial networkingYahooInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?