The U.S. government is calling on Silicon Valley to combat terrorism, particularly from ISIL. Top security officials will meet with tech leaders to discuss policy and tactics for undermining ISIL’s Internet presence. Whether tech and government, often two communities at odds, can join to create an effective strategy remains to be seen, but there are already some in the virtual world in the fight.
The tech leaders met with the government on Friday, according to ABC. On the government side, there was Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey and Obama counterterrorism advisor Lisa Monaco. Obama’s Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, organized the meeting in a federal government building in San Jose, California.
On the Silicon Valley side, senior executives from Google, Facebook, and Twitter were present, along with rumors that Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, attended. It’s not clear if the executives included any other corporate CEOs — what the outcome of the meeting is also an unknown.
According to an agenda obtained by the Washington Post, the goals were generally vague. It included items such as learning how to use tech to “disrupt paths to radicalization to violence” and “identify recruitment patterns.” The government also wanted to discuss ways the companies and U.S. government could “help others to create, publish, and amplify alternative content that would undercut” ISIL online.
The U.S. government has come to heads with Silicon Valley over a number of issues including free speech and encryption, which might prove to be an obstacle for the two groups. Likewise, the massive NSA data collection programs have injured big tech companies business interests abroad, especially in Europe.
Encryption has been a particularly controversial issue, even within the Obama administration. U.S. agencies dealing with economic and tech issues have long supported widespread encryption, but law enforcement says it can be used to bolster terrorism and crime.
FBI Director James Comey would only attend the meeting if encryption was specifically added to the agenda, according to the Washington Post — a concession that likely irked some of the tech leaders.
Still, the meeting was a chance to hammer out policy that could help both sides achieve their greater aims — making people safer while promoting a free and lucrative Internet.
President Obama discussed bringing in the tech leaders for the war on terrorism in an address after the San Bernardino shooting. Obama announced that he would “urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.”
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has also called for the U.S. government to make better use of tech leaders, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
“Resolve means depriving jihadists of virtual territory just as we work to deprive them of actual territory … You are going to hear all the usual complaints, freedom of speech, et cetera … We are going to have to have more support from our friends in the technology world to deny [terrorists] online space. We are going to have to ask our technology companies … to help us on this.”
Although the former Secretary of State likely alienated some of those potential friends when she called for a “Manhattan-like project” to break smartphone encryption.
Whether or not tech leaders and the U.S. government can get along, some in the tech world have already declared war on ISIL, namely the hacktivist group Anonymous. The group began their “Operation Paris” shortly after the attacks in November attacks in Paris.
They now claim to be taking down roughly 1,000 terrorist accounts a day, and they even say they stopped an ISIL plot in Italy. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to verify Anonymous’s claims.
They may not be the tech leaders the U.S. is trying to recruit, but hopefully they’ll provide some insight into the virtual fight against terror for both Silicon Valley and security officials.
[Photo by Patrick Lux/Getty Images]