A new ISIS app that allows members of the terrorist organization, also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, and Daesh, to receive media broadcasts as well as send and receive encrypted messages, untraceable by the FBI and other authorities, has been discovered by internet-security group GhostSec, as reported by Fortune.
Prior to the release of the ISIS Android app, the group was said to have been using the Telegram messaging app, according to Business Insider. Telegram allows users to communicate with large groups of users. Somewhat like WhatsApp, but with more features, Telegram is described as allowing users to destroy messages they send with a timer, as well as offering a high level of security.
After the November ISIS attacks in Paris, as reported by the Inquisitr, Telegram was reported to have begun shutting down channels affiliated with ISIS. In response, ISIS was said to have taken steps to create hidden Telegram channels, undetectable unless provided with a link by an administrator or another user.
Another ISIS app, Amaq Agency, was reported to have been distributed through Telegram, allowing the terrorist group to stream media broadcasts and news. The server that hosted the Amaq Agency app is said to have since disappeared, and the app itself has been replaced with a new one.
The newest app is described as being similar to the Amaq Agency app with the addition of secure message features.
ISIS is said to also encourage users to copy and paste new information in social media, rather than using share functions, as a means of subverting detection by website administrators and authorities.
On January 8, a group of Obama administration staff and security officials were reported to have traveled to Silicon Valley to discuss a need for assistance from technology companies in stopping the spread of propaganda related to ISIS and other terrorist organizations online, according to the New York Times.
The delegation, which was said to have included White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, and Lisa Monaco, an adviser to President Obama on counterterrorism policy. The group was reported to have met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, as well as representatives from Twitter, Google, and Facebook.
“Given the way the technology works these days, there surely are ways that we can disrupt paths to radicalization, to identify recruitment patterns and to provide metrics that allow us to measure the success of our counter-radicalization efforts,” said the press secretary for the White House, Josh Earnest. “I do have a lot of confidence that those companies that are run by patriotic Americans are not interested in seeing their tools or their technology used by terrorists to harm innocent Americans.”
James Comey reportedly made statements towards a belief that WhatsApp, Telegram, and other messaging services should have “back doors” built into their code to allow law enforcement officials to more easily intercept communications by groups like ISIS.
Emma Llanso with the Center for Democracy in Technology described censoring terrorist propaganda as a “slippery slope” because it goes against what is widely felt to be a universal human right: freedom of speech. The question of whether the United States should dictate what are acceptable communications, or if other nations should be allowed the same powers, was raised by the New York Times.
Llanso also described an “erosion of trust” on the part of consumers, who may feel misled if they use apps to share personal information with friends and family under the assumption that messages are completely private when, in fact, law enforcement officials may have had access to them. She named Edward Snowden’s case as an example of events that have eroded the public’s trust with regard to reported covert cooperation between technology companies and law enforcement agencies.