US steps up online fight against IS

White House unveils measures to counter IS propaganda

Obama, Loretta Lynch and James Comey

The White House has introduced new initiatives to combat recruitment of Americans to extremist groups like the so-called Islamic State.

Among a raft of measures is the creation of a new task force to counter the online propaganda of terror groups.

The announcement comes as administration officials meet leaders from Silicon Valley to discuss ways that technology can thwart terrorists.

Participants include Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter.

The aim is to halt extremist groups from radicalising and encourage violence online.

While the meeting in San Jose, California, was happening, the White House unveiled its new plans.

The initiatives include a new task force for countering violent extremism, established by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

The State Department also announced a new Global Engagement Center, which will focus on enabling foreign audiences to counter pro-IS messages.

"The horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino this winter underscored the need for the United States and our partners in the international community and the private sector to deny violent extremists like ISIL fertile recruitment ground," said White House spokesman Ned Price.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper were expected to be at the Silicon Valley meeting.

An agenda obtained by the Associated Press news agency shows that government officials will share how terrorists use encrypted apps and services.

The agenda also shows there will be a discussion on how to "help others create, publish and amplify alternative content that would undercut the" the so-called Islamic State.

Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the radicalised Muslim couple who opened fire at an office party in San Bernardino, California, killing 14, met online and used a private messaging app to share their views.

IS recruits new members online across Europe and the US. Mr Obama has called the group "a bunch of killers with good social media".

Lawmakers have proposed legislation that would require social media platforms to report detected terrorist activity, but the industry said it worries that would lead to reporting of inaccurate data and undue burdens.

Industry leaders and lawmakers have been debating online encryption and privacy after recent terror attacks.

Technology groups have said they want to help without invading privacy.

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