A memorial to the victims of the attacks in Paris. Since the terrorist incidents there and in San Bernardino, California, the issue of how tech companies can help combat terrorism has come to a boil.
Top federal law enforcement and security officials are in Silicon Valley on Friday, meeting with representatives from the biggest names in tech. At issue: How tech and government can work together to fight terrorism.
The summit highlights the government’s heightened sense of urgency in the wake of the San Bernardino, California, shootings last month, when followers of the Islamic State killed 14 people. Topics on the agenda reportedly include encryption, monitoring social-media accounts and encouraging others to resist terror organizations’ online recruitment efforts.
Facebook and Google have confirmed they are sending executives to the summit. Numerous newspapers report that executives from Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube are also attending. Buzzfeed has reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook will attend.
The Guardian published an agenda of the meeting, being held in San Jose, California. The outline mentions various discussion topics, including
making it harder for terrorists to use the Internet to recruit followers,
helping others create content that would undercut the Islamic State,
using technology to disrupt radicalization and identify recruitment patterns and to measure the results of these efforts, and
making it easier for police to identify terrorists and prevent attacks.
For its part, the government is sending a Who’s Who of top federal law enforcement and intelligence officials. They include White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, presidential counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, National Intelligence Director James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, according to a report from Reuters. Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer in the Office of Science and Technology, will also be attending, according to US News.
Some officials may join via teleconference, The Wall Street Journal reports.
While terror has been a major government concern for years, it came to a boil after November attacks in Paris when ISIS-organized attacks killed more than 130 people as they sat in restaurants and attended a rock concert.
Since then, the US government has been working to get Twitter and Facebook to pull down accounts that seek to recruit people to hateful actions.
The question of how to prevent online recruitment is a tricky one. Social media companies all have terms of service that prevent certain types of offensive speech, but the role companies should play in monitoring and reporting social media accounts that might belong to extremists is largely undefined.
CNET’s Terry Collins contributed to this report.