Representatives from 8 of America's largest technology companies met with U.S. intelligence officials in May to talk about how to respond to the ongoing Russian cyber-attacks and foreign influence campaigns that affected our 2016 elections, and could alter the course of year’s midterms.
The New York Times reports that this previously unreported meeting happened on May 23 at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. Executives from Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oath, Snap and Twitter also participated, three attendees told a reporter. The government reps included Christopher Krebs, a Department of Homeland Security under secretary, as well as a representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s newly formed “foreign influence” task force.
“Part of the problem, officials say, is that the White House has expressed little interest in the problem of Russian interference.”
The meeting, which was initiated by Facebook, was seen as a hopeful first step to ensure that the midterms were not a repeat of the Russian interference in 2016, said the three people who attended the meeting.
But the people who attended described a tense atmosphere in which the tech companies repeatedly pressed federal officials for information, only to be told — repeatedly — that no specific intelligence would be shared.
The tech companies shared details about disinformation campaigns they were witnessing on their platforms, but neither the F.B.I. nor the Department of Homeland Security was willing or able to share specific information about threats the tech companies should anticipate, the people said.
One attendee of the meeting said the encounter led the tech companies to believe they would be on their own to counter election interference.