Sen. Ron Wyden wants widespread surveillance of emails, phone data halted; says hurts economy

Economic IndicatorsAssociated Press

A leading Senate critic of online surveillance wants the government to stop widespread spying on phone calls, texts and emails, saying the "digital dragnet" doesn't make the country safer, and only hurts the U.S. economy.

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"When the actions of a foreign government threaten red-white-and-blue jobs, Washington gets up at arms. But, even today, almost no one in Washington is talking about how overly broad surveillance is hurting the U.S. economy," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in remarks prepared for a Senate Finance Committee event in Palo Alto, California on Wednesday.

Wyden convened the roundtable, which also includes Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and top corporate attorneys from Facebook and Microsoft, to discuss the economic fallout from the surveillance programs revealed last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Some analysts estimated last year that U.S. tech companies could lose tens of billions of dollars in sales, particularly after European firms began marketing themselves as being more secure than U.S. competitors — or less vulnerable to legal demands from the U.S. government.