For Obama, a Salute in San Francisco and a Scowl in Silicon Valley

NYT FDDavid E. Sanger February 13, 2015

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Good Friday morning from Washington, where Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia publicly air the Supreme Court debate on same-sex marriage. President Obama is in the Bay Area for a cybersecurity meeting with less-than-enthusiastic tech executives. The pre-primary skirmishing has begun between Senator Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, and Philadelphia lands the Democratic National Convention. In the world of journalism, we mourn the passing of The Times’s media columnist, David Carr, who died Thursday night at age 58.

It would be hard to imagine friendlier terrain for President Obama than San Francisco or the Stanford University campus. And, in fact, after Air Force One landed at San Francisco International Airport last night, the crowds were five people deep as Mr. Obama’s motorcade raced up Nob Hill.

(Then again, maybe they had no place else to go: Even the cable cars had been chased away to make way for the president and his entourage.)

But the reception when Mr. Obama sits down on Friday for a closed round-table session with technology leaders may be a bit chillier.

Silicon Valley has never really gotten over the revelations by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, with their accounts of the agency’s invading Google’s servers, breaking into iPhones and slipping “beacons” into computer systems bound for countries where the American intelligence services needed better access.

There are new battles, as we report, over Apple’s insistence that it improve the encryption in iPhones in ways that would take intelligence agencies years to crack. Google is doing the same with its Android operating system. The tensions between security and privacy that Mr. Obama hopes to finesse will be the subtext of his conversations with executives who once gave lavishly to his campaigns.