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Inside the Obama Administration’s Attempt To Bring Tech Companies Into the Fight Against ISIS

Inside the Obama Administration’s Attempt To Bring Tech Companies Into the Fight Against ISIS
photo courtesy of shutterstock

The growing influence of Silicon Valley is being felt around the world, notably in Washington D.C., where government officials are increasingly seeking the help of tech companies to fight terrorism. In fact, the Department of Defense recently opened a San Francisco office.

The State Department now has its first representative to Silicon Valley. Plus, just last week, the Department of Justice held a meeting in D.C. focused on fighting terrorism online. Specifically, the government is fighting the terrorist group ISIS, or the Islamic State.

ISIS, which controls much of the Middle East around Iraq and Syria, has been aggressively recruiting new terrorists online and promoting itself to vulnerable, angry, Middle Eastern men as a noble pursuit.

The Dept. of Justice's meeting, called the Madison Valleywood Project, brought together advertising pros from New York City's Madison Avenue, tech experts from Silicon Valley, and content producers from Hollywood.

The idea is to craft anti-terrorist messages and use technology to get those message out. "The [Obama] Administration is committed to taking every action possible to confront and interdict terrorist activities whenever they may occur, including in cyberspace," the Dept. of Justice said, in an official statement.

"We are using this engagement and others to enlist the help of industry leaders and experts in our effort to ensure we bring the most innovative private and public sector thinking to all aspects of combating terrorism."

Representatives from Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and other companies were reportedly at the meeting. The problem, according to some people who attended the conference, is that the Administration isn't addressing the root of the problem.

That is, the appeal of ISIS and other terrorist groups to young Arab men. They noted that there weren't many Middle Eastern people at the secretive Madison Valleywood Project conference. (The press was asked not to say who was there.)

Plus, the federal government and Silicon Valley currently have a tense relationship. That stems in large measure from the FBI's ongoing court battle with Apple.

The FBI wants Apple to disable a function in an iPhone that was owned by killed San Bernardino terrorist, Syed Farook. He may have had ties to ISIS.

On Friday, Apple filed a legal motion in a California court to vacate the FBI's request to unlock some iPhone functions. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been saying that disabling the iPhone's security systems would expose millions of iPhone users to hackers.

Keep reading Happening Now. We'll give you updates on the Madison Valleywood Project as news about it is released.

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Source: BuzzFeed
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