8/14/2013 7:15 PM ET|
Tech CEO says NSA surveillance is 'great, essential'
Oracle's Larry Ellison sees the agency's online spy program as necessary but not evil. That should please one of his company's biggest clients.
Larry Ellison, the chief executive of U.S. software giant Oracle (ORCL), told Charlie Rose that not only is he just fine with the NSA's collecting phone records and online user data but he thinks it's working.
"Who's ever heard of this information being misused by the government? In what way?" Ellison asked.
"Let me just hear you clearly," Rose said. "You were saying, 'Whatever the NSA's doing is OK with me'?"
"It's great," Ellison responded. "It's essential. By the way, President Obama thinks it's essential. It's essential if we want to minimize the kind of strikes we just had in Boston. It's absolutely essential."
That's a bit more support for the administration than Ellison tends to give, judging by his campaign contributions last year. Ellison gave $20,000 to Republican candidates and $17,500 to Democrats.
It also distances Ellison from fellow tech CEOs like Facebook (FB) head Mark Zuckerberg and Google (GOOG) chief Larry Page, each of whom denied that the NSA had access to user data shortly after the Prism program was exposed two months ago by former government contractor Edward Snowden.
This isn't so much a political statement as it is a business plan. Oracle wasn't one of the companies linked to NSA surveillance programs, but the government is one of the biggest customers for Oracle's database management systems. If agents want to poke around, it's in Oracle's best interests to let them do so. To a point.
Even Ellison says there's a limit to just how welcome the government should be when it comes to perusing stored data. If government surveillance were used for "political targeting" rather than to investigate possible terror threats, Ellison says, that would be the limit of his patience with the program.
Until then, come in and make yourselves comfortable, folks.
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