US recruits tech leaders to help disrupt ISIS

(iStock)
(iStock)

Palo Alto - With extremists finding fertile ground for recruitment online, the White House is dispatching top national security officials to Silicon Valley to seek the tech industry's help in disrupting the Islamic State group and other terrorists.

At a high-level session on Friday, industry leaders and government officials will discuss ways to use technology to stop terrorists from radicalising people online and spurring them to violence, according to a meeting agenda obtained by The Associated Press.

But it's unclear what will come of the meeting: While tech industry leaders say they want to be good citizens, they don't want to undercut free speech or be viewed as government agents. And tech leaders have clashed with the Obama administration before over encryption of online data and messages.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are slated to attend the session, along with President Barack Obama's chief of staff and his top counter terrorism adviser.

Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and LinkedIn are sending representatives. While it appeared the government wants the companies to send their top executives, there were indications some were still deciding who to send.

Escape from justice

The meeting comes as the Obama administration tries to beef up co-operation with social-media groups and online companies whose platforms are often used by extremists to attract followers, disseminate their message and organise attacks. Obama said in a recent speech that he planned to "urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice."

At Friday's session, government officials plan to brief industry leaders on how terrorists use technology, including encryption. They also hope to discuss ways to make it harder for terrorists to use the internet for recruiting and mobilising followers.

Also on the agenda is a discussion of how the government and tech companies can "help others to create, publish and amplify alternative content that would undercut" the Islamic State.

Another goal is to identify ways for law enforcement to better identify terrorists online and stop them from carrying out attacks.


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