Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says U.S. ‘blew it’ on surveillance


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., March 20, 2013. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
November 24, 2013

The U.S. government “really blew it” on conducting surveillance programs that riled foreign leaders and domestic skeptics, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a television interview.

“They’re continuing to blow it in some ways, and I hope they become more transparent,” Zuckerberg, 29, said in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “These things are always in balance, in terms of doing the right things and also being clear and telling people about what you’re doing.”

The National Security Agency is facing scrutiny in Congress and abroad over revelations that it spied on foreign leaders, broke into fiber-optic cables overseas, and gathered e-mails and phone records of innocent Americans. Most of the revelations were exposed by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who is in Russia under temporary asylum.

Zuckerberg, whose Menlo Park, Calif.-based social-media company made its initial public offering in May 2012, has spent much of the past year getting involved in political issues, from education in New Jersey to infrastructure development in Africa. In April, he announced the formation of a group called FWD.us to lobby for changes to U.S. immigration policy, higher academic standards and more investment in research.

“The future of our economy is a knowledge economy, and that means getting the most talented people into this country is the most important thing we can do to make sure the companies of tomorrow are founded here,” said Zuckerberg, who has an estimated worth of $22.6 billion.

Fwd.us supports helping undocumented workers become citizens and is calling for an increase in H-1B visas, a program favored by the technology industry that lets skilled guest workers come to the United States.

Asked for his advice on what President Obama’s administration should do to resolve snags in the new government-run health insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, Zuckerberg cited his company’s technological challenges.

“Sometimes stuff doesn’t work when you want it to,” he said. “We’ve certainly had plenty of mistakes and things that haven’t worked the way that we want to. The right thing here is to keep on focusing on building the service that you think is right in the long term.”

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