Top French cop meeting US officials over terrorist use of social media

Top French cop meeting US officials over terrorist use of social media
© Getty Images

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday that he will meet with top U.S. officials in February to discuss how best to stymie terrorist activity on social media, according to The Wall Street Journal.


He will also meet with U.S. tech firms to “update our level of cooperation” — a substantial change in tone from a year ago, when he warned that “we won’t succeed in our fight against terrorism unless Internet actors start taking responsibility.”

Cazeneuve will travel to the U.S. to meet with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to discuss recent efforts by the Obama administration to combat extremist use of social media platforms, he said during a cybersecurity conference in Lille, France.

Earlier this month, top Obama officials met with Silicon Valley executives from Facebook, Twitter and other firms to discuss how best to address terrorist voices on their networks.

Cazeneuve and other European officials have pushed for stronger cooperation between social media firms and law enforcement since the attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo last year.

“Just because the vast majority of this content is found on American services doesn’t reduce their impact on French people,” Cazeneuve said in remarks early last year.

“The less people take responsibility, the more legislators will be forced to take the initiative,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière warned in remarks given at the same 2015 event.

Domestic calls for the tech giants to police user content more effectively have been growing in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., late last year.

Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSchiff: Evidence of collusion between Trump campaign, Russia 'pretty compelling' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Drama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry MORE (R-N.C.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line MORE (D-Calif.) are backing legislation that would force social media companies to notify federal authorities of terrorist activity on their networks.

“We’re in a new age where terrorist groups like ISIL are using social media to reinvent how they recruit and plot attacks,” Feinstein said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). “That information can be the key to identifying and stopping terrorist recruitment or a terrorist attack, but we need help from technology companies."

The legislation has met with fierce backlash from privacy advocates and tech experts, who say there are risks to the federal government encouraging a private company to censor speech.

Social media firms now rely on the terms of service of their sites to justify the removal of ISIS-affiliated content, and law enforcement agencies can make removal requests.

Experts say Facebook has been aggressive, and largely successful, in identifying and shutting down terrorist-affiliated accounts on its platform, while Twitter has a spottier record in combatting the tens of thousands of active ISIS accounts.

Cazeneuve on Tuesday congratulated France’s efforts in achieving a “a wide-ranging and effective dialogue based on mutual trust” with tech firms, calling the country “a pioneer” that has influenced U.S. policy.

“The U.S. now also wants to work with operators to counteract terrorist content on the Internet,” Cazeneuve said. “Our audacity has paid off, and now we’re schooling others, and I’m very happy about that.”