President Obama Urges Tech Companies to Shut Down Terrorists’ Social Media Accounts

The president wants to tackle the active planning of terror plots that takes place on social sites.

WASHINGTON – During his address to the nation Sunday evening, President Obama pressed technology companies to collaborate with law enforcement in counterterrorism efforts following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.

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“We constantly examine our strategy to determine when additional steps are needed to get the job done,” Obama said. “And that’s why I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.”

But the issue of how the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) uses technology to further its goals received much less attention in the 13-minute speech than observers had expected, The Hill reports. Prior to the address, a senior administration official indicated to reporters that the president would address both ISIS’s use of secure communications to plan attacks undetected and its use of social media as a recruiting tool.

“There are cases where we believe that individuals should not have access to social media for that purpose,” the official said, via The Hill. “That is a dialogue that we have been having with Silicon Valley.”

“At the same time we would not want to see certain methods of encryption making it impossible to detect and disrupt terrorist plotting,” the official continued. “This is a balance that we want to strike in partnership with our technology industry.”

Social media platforms – like Facebook and Twitter – have come under pressure to remove or otherwise disrupt accounts being used to spread terrorist propaganda or recruit followers. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Sunday called for the U.S. to “deprive jihadists of virtual territory” by “work[ing] with host companies to shut them down.”

As far back as March, senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to Twitter urging it to “do more” to “put a stop to this cyber jihad,” The Hill reported.

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