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Verizon executive says tech firms 'grandstanding' over NSA: report

Verizon Enterprise Solutions President John Stratton speaks during a CES Innovation Power Panel at the 2012 International Consumer Electroni
Verizon Enterprise Solutions President John Stratton speaks during a CES Innovation Power Panel at the 2012 International Consumer Electroni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A senior executive for Verizon Communications Inc has accused U.S. technology companies of "grandstanding" in public comments about their forced cooperation with U.S. spy agencies, according to a report by technology news website ZDNet.com.

Verizon declined to comment on the report, which was published on Tuesday. ZDNet cited comments made by John Stratton, the head of Verizon's enterprise business, during a business trip to Tokyo.

Companies including Google Inc, Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc have been pushing for authority to disclose more about their dealings with the U.S. National Security Agency after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed sweeping domestic classified surveillance operations earlier this year.

According to ZDNet, Stratton said he appreciates that it is important for the technology firms to "grandstand a bit, and wave their arms and protest loudly so as not to offend the sensibility of their customers."

But Stratton suggested that national security was more important than other concerns, according to the report.

LinkedIn Corp, the social networking site for professionals, on Tuesday joined other Silicon Valley companies, which have asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to grant permission to publish aggregate data about national-security requests, including those made through FISA court orders. (http://1.usa.gov/14iApFH)

Among the documents leaked by Snowden are some showing that the NSA obtained massive quantities of data about phone calls placed over Verizon's network.

Stratton said his company is obliged to cooperate with the laws in countries where it operates, according to ZDNet.

"There is another question that needs to be kept in the balance, which is a question of civil liberty and the rights of the individual citizen in the context of that broader set of protections that the government seeks to create in its society," he said.

The report cited Stratton as saying it was up to the public to address that issue, not executives with telecom or technology firms.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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