Administration tries to harness Silicon Valley’s talent for fight against ISIS

Published 8 January 2016

Senior administration intelligence officials are meeting today (Friday) with Silicon Valley’s major technology firms — companies including Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, YouTube , LinkedIn, Dropbox, and others — in an effort to recruit them and their technological know-how in the fight against radicalization and terrorism.

The Guardian obtained a copy of the agenda, and  reports that it indicates the White House seeks to channel Silicon Valley’s talent into the war against Islamic State and other extremist groups.

The agenda states: “In what ways can we use technology to help disrupt paths to radicalization to violence, identify recruitment patterns, and provide metrics to help measure our efforts to counter radicalization to violence?”

The delegation to Silicon Valley is led by White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough, and includes National Security Agency director Admiral Mike Rogers, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI director James Comey, and others.

When asked about the meeting, a senior White House official said: “The administration has been clear about the importance of government and industry working together to confront terrorism.”

Several people familiar with the meeting told the Guardian that White House officials advised the attending technology companies that the focus would be on terrorism and extremism. It is also likely that the issue of encryption will come up, several people close to the talks said.

The agenda does not contain the word encryption, but says: “How can we make it harder for terrorists to use the internet to mobilize, facilitate, and operationalize attacks, and make it easier for law enforcement and the intelligence community to identify terrorist operatives and prevent attacks?”

Analysts note that the Obama administration is still trying to figuring out what it is expecting from Silicon Valley as the United States is engaged in a fight against ISIS. It appears that the administration is trying to find out what more technology companies can do, the person familiar with the administration’s plans told the newspaper.