clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

After San Bernardino, Hillary Clinton Reaffirms Call for Silicon Valley to Do More Against ISIS

"You're gonna hear all of the usual complaints, you know, freedom of speech, etc."

Mark Wilson / Getty

After the Paris attacks last month, Hillary Clinton called on Silicon Valley to join forces with the U.S. government in its fight against the Islamic State. Today, she reiterated that call during a talk at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington.

Two days ago, the New York Times reported that one of the suspected attackers in last week’s San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) on Facebook before the attacks. Talking at the Brookings Institution-hosted Saban Forum on the Israeli-American relationship, Hillary Clinton urged “government and the high-tech community to confront [ISIS] together.”

She was revisiting territory that she covered last month after the Paris attacks, even reusing a line pushing tech companies to “deprive 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. Later on, during a question-and-answer session, she specifically mentioned San Bernardino suspect Tashfeen Malik’s reported “allegiance to [ISIS leader] al-Baghdadi and ISIS on Facebook.”

A substantial amount of campaign cash for Clinton has come from Silicon Valley (almost $730,000 in Crowdpac’s estimate), in addition to the public embrace of well-known tech industry figures like Sheryl Sandberg and Elon Musk. Companies like Facebook, Apple and Google have largely kept silent about encryption and privacy practices since Paris, though it seems unlikely they’d reverse the increasingly advanced encryption tools they have been adding over the last couple of years.

Though Silicon Valley doesn’t want to allow the government to build “backdoors” into their services and user info, they’ve collaborated to fight terror online in different ways. Twitter has taken down tens of thousands of accounts believed to be affiliated with ISIS, and social media services have revised their content guidelines.

Reports suggest that Malik was not affiliated with an ISIS cell and instead acted independently with her husband, and it appears that last month’s attacks in Paris were not coordinated using encrypted messaging. Still, Clinton urged the tech industry “to shut off [ISIS terrorists’] means of communicating.”

“Self-radicalization that leads to attacks, like what we think happened in San Bernardino, we’re going to have to ask our tech companies … to help us on this,” she said. “And this is complicated, you’re gonna hear all of the usual complaints, you know, freedom of speech, etc.”

The forum today was put together by the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, an annual event named for longtime Clinton family political ally and billionaire media mogul Haim Saban. The two main topics Clinton addressed were the Israeli-American relationship (“We stand with … Israel, forever”), and ongoing instability in the Middle East. She closed by asking Silicon Valley to put its “great disruptors to work in disrupting ISIS.”

You can watch Clinton’s full remarks below. She begins talking about ISIS and Silicon Valley at around 25:00 and again at roughly 1:16:40.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.