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Obama Shifts Online Strategy on ISIS

WASHINGTON — Top Obama administration officials have flown out to Silicon Valley and will meet Friday with technology executives to try to persuade them to do more to stop terrorists from using their platforms to recruit followers and incite violence, according to executives and officials involved.

In a reflection of just how urgent the White House views the discussions, they will involve officials like Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff; Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch; James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence; James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director; and Lisa Monaco, the president’s counterterrorism adviser.

They will be meeting with Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, as well as top executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google. Law enforcement officials for years have expressed frustration that technology companies are increasingly creating products like smartphones with encryption technologies that make it difficult if not impossible for the government to monitor conversations.


Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, last month in New York. Mr. Cook and other technology executives will meet with top Obama administration officials on Friday. Credit Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

But Friday’s discussion, while touching on encryption issues, is expected to focus largely on social media and how technology companies could more effectively police their platforms for content created to advance extremist views, recruit followers and incite violence.

“This meeting is the latest in the administration’s continuing dialogue with technology providers and others to ensure we are bringing our best private and public sector thinking to combating terrorism,” said Melanie R. Newman, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department.

The issues involved are difficult for both sides. For global leaders, the issue is an inability to effectively monitor social media. Technology companies counter that in many cases their products brought freedom of expression to parts of the world that had never experienced it before.

That freedom, however, has also allowed extremists to propagate their views in ways they had been unable to before, discomfiting even the United States.

There is also the technological challenge of sifting through vast amounts of user-generated content in different languages on a growing number of social media platforms.

The meeting, called by the White House, will be held at a government building in San Jose, Calif.

Technology executives have been keen to demonstrate their independence from Washington in the wake of revelations from Edward J. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who provided documents to journalists that revealed previous coordination with American surveillance efforts that led to a significant loss of confidence in foreign countries.

Some governments have sought similar coordination, demands that have made technology companies nervous about losing credibility with users everywhere. So executives will be wary of seeming too amenable to demands for any Internet policing programs that come only from American officials.


NYT > Technology

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