clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tech executives 'open' to helping Obama thwart ISIS, Apple holds strong on encryption

Apple's CEO won't budge on privacy

Kimberly White/Getty Images

Yesterday, top members of President Obama's administration met with leading executives from Silicon Valley at a closed-door summit in San Jose, California. They came together in hopes of finding new ways to combat terrorism online — and to lessen the ability for ISIS to recruit or use social media to influence lone wolf attacks throughout the western world. Apple CEO Tim Cook was joined by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, and representatives from Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and other companies.

The Guardian reports that the technology leaders "appeared to be open to helping" the government counter and discredit ISIS. Sandberg reportedly demonstrated Facebook's emergency suicide prevention tool, which lets users flag friends who have posted suicidal thoughts. Without missing a beat, Obama's team "wondered if such a system could be used to flag terrorist content or detect a user who appears to be radicalizing." The Guardian doesn't note whether Sandberg was agreeable to that idea.

Apple CEO Tim Cook yet again emphasized that his company won't be giving the government a "backdoor" into encrypted iPhones or iMessage conversations. Cook "told the government it needs to state publicly that it supports strong encryption," according to the report. But all in all, it sounds like the two sides had a pleasant and productive exchange, though it might be some time before we see any of these companies take new steps to thwart terrorism.