Obama: U.S., Britain need capability to track extremist groups online

U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) appear during a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington January 16, 2015. (Reuters)

The United States and Britain have tried hard to strike a balance between Internet privacy and national security but need to preserve the capability of tracking extremist groups online, U.S. President Barack Obama Friday.

“We’re still going to have to find ways to make sure that if an al-Qaeda affiliate is operating in Great Britain or the United States that we can try to prevent real tragedy,” he said at a news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“And I think the companies want to see that as well. They’re patriots, they have families, that they want to see protected.”

Earlier, Cameron called for American technology companies like Google and Facebook to allow governments to snoop on encrypted communications.

Before their joint conference, Obama and Cameron were huddling with their top aides at the White House the week after 17 people died in terror attacks in France spurred by a satirical newspaper’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Fears of additional attacks by Islamic extremists grew Thursday, when police in Belgium killed two suspects during an anti-terror raid launched to pre-empt what officials called a major impending attack.

Cameron has argued that intelligence agencies must be able to intercept terror suspects’ communications on encrypted social media and messaging sites. However, his view has struck a nerve in the U.S. and in Britain, countries that both have grappled to find a balance between security and privacy.

(With Associated Press and Reuters)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46