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Silicon Valley leaders are meeting with senior White House and federal law enforcement figures on 8 January in California to discuss terrorists' use of social media to fuel their violence. The meeting comes amid increasing pressure on tech companies to take a stronger stand against online propaganda by organisations such as the Islamic State (Isis).
The summit is being held in a federal government building in San Jose and will be led by White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough. It comes after President Obama's call – following last month's San Bernardino mass shootings by husband and wife terrorists – for tech leaders to "make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice."
White House officials hope to explore ways to "disrupt paths to radicalisation to violence" and "identify recruitment patterns" on social media, as well as to help other users publish content that can hurt groups like IS (Daesh), according to a copy of the agenda obtained by the Washington Post. Law enforcement is also eager to explore ways to identify militants online.
Last week, Twitter updated its policies for policing its content to explicitly prohibit "hateful conduct." And Google chairman Eric Schmidt last month urged tech companies to create new tools to counteract terrorists' manipulation of social media.
But many Silicon Valley leaders are loathe to undermine free speech on the web or be perceived as an arm of the government. US internet companies are currently urging the British government to reconsider a plan to make telecommunications firms help spies hack into computers and phones. The draft Investigatory Powers Bill would require telecom companies to keep records of customers' web histories for up to a year, and to help security services gain access to suspects' electronic devices. A statement from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo called the bill a "dangerous precedent to set."
Senior representatives of Twitter, Apple, Facebook and Google are attending the California meeting, and government officials include US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, National Intelligence Director James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers. The summit will focus on social media, though others planned for the future will address different online issues concerning security.