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Top officials of the Obama administration have met leading Internet companies in Silicon Valley in an effort to build cooperation with them in combating online radicalisation and recruitment by terror groups.
The meeting was attended by the White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Assistant to the President for Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security Lisa Monaco,US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, among other senior administration officials.
Representatives of a number of leading Silicon Valley companies including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft attended the meeting.
“This meeting confirmed that we are united in our goal to keep terrorists and terror-promoting material off the Internet,” Facebook said in a statement. Spokesmen for several other companies declined comment on the meeting.
The government wants tech companies’ help in stopping extremists from finding “refuge” online, while also looking for ways to “create, publish and amplify” messages that counter extremist propaganda, according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
Leading Internet companies say they remove content that violates their policies by promoting terrorism or threatening violence, but they are reluctant to infringe on free speech. They also don’t want to be viewed around the world as agents of the U.S. government. And they have chafed at government officials’ criticism of tech companies’ refusal to provide “back doors” into encryption programs that guard customers’ online messages and other files.
“Our sense here is there’s some common ground we should be able to find,” said Earnest. “We’re hopeful there would be a willingness on their part to work with us and try to find some solutions.”