Hillary Clinton wants tech to work with gov't to fight ISIS

She asked them to deny terrorists "virtual territory" and to "shut off their means of communicating"

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 7, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/41dd

As we all know, the news has been especially depressing lately, with a number of disheartening shooting rampages, many of which seem to be tied, in one way or another, to ISIS, including the attack in Paris a few weeks ago and the one in San Bernardino last week.

So whose job is it to fight ISIS and stop these things from happening? Most, I think, would say it's the government's job, since its main function is to keep us safe. One of the top candidates for President in 2016 has another idea.

In a speech at the Brooking Institution's Saban Forum 2015 on Sunday, Hillary Clinton called on technology companies to step and up and fight ISIS.

"The threat from radical jihadism has metastasized and become more complex and challenging. We are seeing the results of the radicalization, not just in far off lands, but right here at home, fueled by the Internet. It's the nexus of terrorism and technology," she said.

America needs to have "resolve," which means "depriving jihadists of virtual territory just as we work to deprive them of actual territory."

They are using websites, social media, chat rooms and other platforms to celebrate beheadings, recruit future terrorists and call for attacks. We should work with host companies to shut them down,” Clinton said, calling for dialogue between governments around the word and the tech community to "confront this problem together."

During a question and answer session at the end of the speech, Clinton was asked a question about her policy on Syria, during which she brought the idea up again,

"What we see right now, I think, is just the beginning of directed attacks and self-radicalization that leads to attacks like what we think happened in San Bernardino, and we’re going to have to ask our technology companies, and Israel is leader in this area, to help us on this," she said.

"The government is good in some respects but nowhere near as good as those of you who are in this field."

She specifically mentioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook as sites that are being used by terrorists to communicate, noting that one of the terrorists in San Bernardino had posted her allegiance to ISIS on Facebook.

What Clinton did not bring up in the speech were any specifics on what she wants these sites to do to help combat terrorism, and that is where this is going to get dicey, as technology companies have been trying to increase transparency over the kind of information they are giving up to the government.

When the news of the government's encryption program first broke in 2013, technology companies were accused of, essentially, selling out their userbase to the government. Since then companies have been trying to clear their names, with a number of them fighting to release how many Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests they actually received, in order that show that they are not, in fact, government stooges.

Companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook have been releasing transparency reports, showing record levels and huge increases in the number of requests from government agencies around the world for information about their users. 

The tech world and the government have become more intertwined in recent years, with politicians joining tech companies and vice versa.

Megan Smith, the currently Chief Technology Officer of the United States, who assumed office in 2014, was also previously an executive at Google, where she had been vice president of Google[x], and was vice president of business development at Google for nine years before that. She was also the former CEO of Planet Out.

Josh Miller, who joined Facebook as a product manager following the acquisition of social sharing service Branch Media, left to become the first ever first director of product for the White House.

Uber hired David Plouffe as its new Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy, it was announced on Tuesday. Plouffe, of course, is famous for being Barack Obama's campaign manager in 2008 and a Senior Advisor to the President when he got to the White House. In May, Plouffe stepped back from that role, but remains an advisor to the company. 

In September of last year, Snapchat hired Jill Hazelbaker, who had also been Senior Director of Communications and Government Relations at Google, to be its new Vice President of Communications and Public Policy. Hazelbaker had previously worked as a political consultant for a number of Republican candidates, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She also worked as National Communications Director for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Jay Carney, former White House Press Secretary, joined Amazon earlier this year as its senior vice president leading the company's Global Corporate Affairs department.

Clinton's campaign has not been immune to this: Stephanie Hannon, Google's director of product management for civic innovation and social impact, was tapped by the Hillary Clinton campaign to be its new chief technology office. 

While the lines between the two sides are more blurry, that does not mean that tech companies are going to so easily go along with government sanctioned censorship, something that Clinton acknowledged at the end of her speech.

We're going to have more support from our friends in the technology world to deny online space," she said.

"And this is complicated. You’re gonna hear all of the usual complaints, you know, freedom of speech, etc. But if we truly are in a war against terrorism, and we are truly looking for ways to shut off their funding, shut off the flow of foreign fighters, than we've got to shut off their means of communicating."

Clinton’s full speech is embedded below. Her remarks regarding ISIS and technology occur at 25:33 and 1:16:40.