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US national security officials met with leading tech officials of Silicon Valley on 8 January to collaborate on developing a task force to fight online terrorist activity. The meeting was held by the US government in its efforts to prevent the recent rise of internet use by various domestic and international militant elements.
The high level US delegation, led by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, held a conference with representatives of Silicon Valley's most prominent technology firms, including Apple's CEO, Tim Cook.
The meeting was the latest effort by the Obama administration to urge tech companies to collaborate with the government's intelligence agencies. There was believed to be a noticeable estrangement between tech giants and the current administration since former national security agent Edward Snowden's disclosure on government surveillance practices.
However, the recent meeting, held at a government complex close to San Jose's City Hall, is believed to be reflective of the government's intention to bury the hatchet. A high level government official reportedly described the session as a "technological brainstorm meeting". The primary issues believed to have been discussed were related to exploring more stringent measures to prevent extremists from using the internet for recruitment purposes and planning violent attacks.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Yahoo were planning to send senior officials to the meeting, according to a Reuters report. The meeting is believed to have lasted two hours and 15 minutes, after which a Facebook spokesperson commented: "We explained our policies and how we enforce them — Facebook does not tolerate terrorists or terror propaganda and we work aggressively to remove it as soon as we become aware of it".
The security at the meet's venue was surprisingly casual and light, enabling a few reporters to even take pictures of McDonough and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, getting coffee together prior to the meet, Reuters reported. FBI director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch also attended the talks.