US, Britain to Establish Joint 'Cyber Cell'
by VOA News January 16, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have pledged to increase cooperation on a number of issues facing their two nations, including cybersecurity.
Speaking alongside Cameron at the White House Friday, President Obama said the decision was made 'given the urgent and growing danger of cyberthreats' and is intended 'to protect our critical infrastructure, our businesses and the privacy of our people.'
The move comes in the wake of the devastating November 24 hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment and attacks this week on social media accounts of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State insurgents in Iraq and Syria.
The two world leaders are reportedly planning to hold joint cyber 'war games' starting later this year with a mock attack on banks.
The British leader had said prior to the meeting that he planned to ask President Obama to press U.S. technology companies like Google and Facebook to allow governments to snoop on encrypted communications.
The subject is a sensitive one in the U.S. following widespread public outrage at revelations the U.S. National Security Agency was scooping up phone records of millions of Americans. Disclosures by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden also showed that several U.S. Internet businesses were giving NSA access to customer data.
President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron also agreed on the need to maintain strong sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine. The two leaders pledged to support Ukraine as it implements what Obama described as 'important democratic reforms.'
Another major topic of discussion was Iran. Cameron said both the U.S. and Britain remain 'absolutely committed' to ensuring Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons. He said the best way to achieve that is to give the negotiations toward an agreement with Iran the space to succeed.
The two leaders also discussed joint efforts on Ebola, climate change and the economy. They identified 2015 as a pivotal year for talks on a European Union - U.S. trade agreement.
Obama's meetings with Cameron, including a working dinner Thursday night come a week after Europe was shaken by terror attacks in Paris.
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