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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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December 17th, 2013
04:23 PM ET

Tech giants call for NSA changes

(CNN) - Silicon Valley's biggest brains – executives from Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and more – were all in the same room with President Barack Obama Tuesday.

Obama called them in to talk about improving HealthCare.gov, which maybe would've been a good idea before the website's roll out on October 1.

They talked about the problem-plagued federal health care website for the first 45 minutes, according to someone who took part in the meeting.

But then the president and vice president arrived, and the group spent the next two hours discussing the National Security Agency, this source tells CNN.

Recently, many of these companies signed an open letter calling for reforms to the NSA's wide-reaching surveillance programs, which have treated America's tech giants like a grab bag from which to mine user data - e-mails, chats, videos, photos, and more.

Much of the time, the NSA isn't asking, it's telling.

From Facebook, the NSA mines profiles for connections, according to The New York Times. From Google, it uses cookies to pinpoint hacking targets, according to The Washington Post. From Apple, the agency made thousands of customer data requests, and told Apple to keep quiet about it.

This meeting comes just a day after a federal judge ruled that the NSA's phone record collection probably violates the Constitution.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed these programs to the world, applauded the court ruling, presumably from Russia. He also sent an open letter to the people of Brazil, offering to help investigate U.S. surveillance against them – and reminding the world that he's still looking for political asylum.

The tech firms invited to the White House Tuesday released a joint statement after the meeting, saying, "We appreciated the opportunity to share directly with the president our principles on government surveillance that we released last week and we urge him to move aggressively on reform."

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