Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter to meet with White House officials for discussions on terrorists' use of social media
Top executives from Google, Facebook, Twitter and other major Silicon Valley players are due to meet with senior White House officials and US intelligence agencies to help form counter-terrorism measures on social media.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook is reported to be one of the executives meeting with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, presidential counter-terrorism advisor Lisa Monaco, attorney general Loretta Lynch, FBI director James Comey, national intelligence director James Clapper and national security agency director Mike Rogers.
Technology firms have come under mounting pressure in light of social media’s use in the recruitment and organisation of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
The Washington Post has reported that the meeting’s agenda will largely focus on ways to hinder terrorists’ attempts to radicalise and mobilise followers online. Other points listed on the agenda including identifying recruitment patters through social media and helping ordinary users create, publish and amplify content that can undercut groups like Islamic State.
Several other Internet firms, including Microsoft and Dropbox, are also expected to attend the meeting with most companies sending high-ranking executives, rather than their chief executive officers.
Many companies have been somewhat reluctant to be seen meeting with intelligence and security agencies in light of Edward Snowden’s revelations on controversial government surveillance. However in a December speech president Barack Obama urged high-tech and law enforcement leaders to “make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice".
Encryption will also figure in the discussions as the White House looks to flesh out an agreement with tech firms over access to data for counterterrorism measures.
The issue is currently being discussed in the UK where Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have made a joint submission on the UK’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill that urges the government to guarantee encryption in law.
In the statement the companies completely rejected any proposals that would require them to deliberately weaken the security of their products via backdoors or forced decryption. They are that mandating weakened encryption in products such as Apple would put the general public at risk, making it easier for criminals, hackers and terrorists data.