Thursday 26 April 2018

Plans to clamp down on use of messaging apps by criminals signalled by Eu anti-terrorism chief

Sir Julian King has called the use of social media and messenger services by criminals a 'big problem'
Sir Julian King has called the use of social media and messenger services by criminals a 'big problem'
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

EUROPE’S anti-terrorism tsar has signalled plans to clamp down on the use of social media and messaging services by suspected criminals and terrorists.

Sir Julian King, the European Commissioner for Security, described the use of such by individuals for criminal activity as a “big problem”.

And he accused a number of service providers, including the operators of ‘Telegram’, of being uncooperative with EU chiefs.

Speaking to reporters at the MacGill summer school in Glenties,Commissioner King said EU members states will be presented with a series of new legal options in October.

“Encryption is part of all our lives...We all rely upon it as part of our daily lives now,” the commissioner said.

“Unfortunately, it is available to be used by people who want to misuse and cause harm and that’s a big problem.

“There is no simple solution. And it is a mistake to pretend to people there is some simple solution.

“That somehow you can create some magic back door that only the police can use when they need it and nobody else can use it. That, I think, is not the best way of looking at this issue.”

The Government here has already signalled plans to introduce new measures surrounding covert surveillance and the use of messaging services by criminal gangs.

The plans are designed to gardaí given new powers to intercept Facebook and What's App messages, as well as emails, which are increasingly being used by suspected criminals as a mode of communication.

‘Telegram’, which the Commissioner singled out, is similar to ‘What’s App’ and allows users significant privacy through the use of a ‘secret chat’ function.

Users have the option to ‘self destruct’ the contents of the message - meaning it cannot be retrieved.

The Commissioner said the operators of Telegram have not cooperated to the same degree as other providers.

“I’'m afraid, amongst all the different internet service providers across Europe, when we try and talk to them about what we can do together on tackling radicalisation or other problems, they stand out for their non cooperation.

“I’m quite happy to name them.”

Separately, the Commissioner said he does not believe the various governments will allow a scenario whereby Brexit would prompt a rise in terrorism.

“As far as I’m aware in London, in Dublin and Belfast, everybody is committed to finding something that doesn’t take us backwards…”

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