Terrorists and criminals are increasingly using innovative technologies to encrypt their communications and hide their actions from law enforcers, making it very difficult to monitor or prevent any illegal activity. This week Silicon Valley tech giants met with White House representatives to discuss new ways to map and respond to terrorists who use technologies such as social media to recruit members, coordinate attacks or spread propaganda. But as technologies become more sophisticated and terrorists become more tech savvy, stopping them won’t be as easy as clicking a mouse.
While tech companies are countering ISIS in their own ways, such as by deleting accounts believed to be affiliated with terrorism, they have always pushed back against government demands to censor information, give access to private accounts or provide encryption keys. If the government had that kind of access it could more effectively spy on law abiding citizens, which could lead to a slippery slope with certain rights like freedom of speech and an escalating distrust of the parties responsible.
Even if there was a willingness to work more closely in countering terrorism efforts online, there is the challenge of sifting through vast amounts of data on a number of platforms, in a number of languages – and that’s assuming all of the relevant data is discoverable, and clear lines have been drawn between simple trolling and a call to arms. But rather than trying to force terrorists to find other ways to communicate by shutting down their social media accounts, maybe it should be considered a blessing that they continue to use American technology, which will make it easier for the government to find and counter violent extremism online.
Interested in ancient technology? What about the first Trojan horse? Movie for your mood: Troy