White House hopes for 'common ground' in Silicon Valley meeting

Top government leaders hope for a 'robust discussion' with tech firms

The White House hopes a Friday summit between senior government officials and Silicon Valley tech leaders will find common ground on ways to work together to combat extremism and radicalization.

Government officials will seek to convince tech executives that they need to heed President Barack Obama's call to action and step up to help the U.S. in its fight against militants. But some tech executives are still wary of assisting the government after former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden leaked information about U.S. spying back in 2013.

"The goal here is to find additional ways here to work together to make it even harder for terrorists or criminals to find refuge in cyberspace," said spokesman Josh Earnest at the White House daily news conference.

Earnest said the government and the tech industry have worked together before on stopping the distribution and trading of child pornography and there's no reason they can't be partners again.

"Technology leaders are patriotic Americans," he said. "They don’t have any desire for child pornographers or would-be terrorists to be using their tools and their technology to harm innocent people."

A measure of the importance the government is putting on its call for help can be seen in the people speaking at meeting. Participants will include White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, the president's national security advisor Lisa Monaco, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper would also take part.

It's not clear which tech companies will be in attendance and who they will be sending.

"I think there is an opportunity for there to be a robust discussion for ways we can make it harder for terrorists to leverage the internet to radicalize and mobilize supporters to carry out acts of violence," Earnest said.

Other subjects to be tackled include ways to "amplify content from credible sources" to help counteract radical messages and disrupt online recruitment programs.

Earnest also said he expects the tech industry representatives to arrive with their own ideas about what should be on the agenda.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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