White House wants Silicon Valley to help stop terrorist recruitment

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ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Saturday, January 9, 2016
White House wants Silicon Valley to help stop terrorist recruitment
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Top U.S. government officials lead a high-level meeting with Silicon Valley executives in San Jose, trying to get the tech giants to help stop terrorists from using the Internet.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The White House is seeking help from Silicon Valley tech companies to stop terrorists from using the Internet.

In particular, federal agencies want to stop ISIS and other terrorists from using social media to recruit supporters and to coordinate attacks.

A high-level meeting was convened in San Jose Friday afternoon that lasted just over two hours.

Tech companies have blocked efforts by the government to give them access to encrypted communications. But this time, the government is asking for help monitoring social networks, may not be as contentious.

The meeting was attended by some high level government officials, the White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and the Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken.

Also in attendance was LinkedIn Executive Chairman, Reid Hoffman, along with leaders from Apple, Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants.

The focus was on how to identify and prevent terrorists from using social media to recruit and plan attacks.

California Senator, Dianne Feinstein, is Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"There is no way, currently, even with reasonable cause and a warrant, to be able to get information when you have good reason to believe that a terrorist plot may be in the planning," she said.

The closed-door meeting at the U.S. Patent and Trademark office was one of three initiatives announced by the White House on Friday.

A task force has also been created to counter violent extremism. Another initiative will facilitate dialogue among international partners.

Senior administration officials believe terrorists think they are safe using social media.

However, Bryce Westlake, an expert at San Jose State University, who studies child exploitation over the internet, thinks the Valley's tech companies have demonstrated their know-how.

"They do great work with assisting and monitoring child pornography networks, social networks, and how people communicate and how content is distributed," explained Westlake.