Wednesday 22 November 2017

MI5 boss says social media sites must aid war on terror

Andrew Parker: MI5 chief. Photo: PA
Andrew Parker: MI5 chief. Photo: PA

Tom Whitehead in London

The head of MI5 has launched an unprecedented attack on social media companies, saying they have a "responsibility" to pass on intelligence of potential terrorism.

He also warned that Britain was now facing its gravest threat from fanatics and said his agency had foiled six major plots to attack this country in the last year - the highest that he has ever known.

Andrew Parker became the first British spy chief to give a live broadcast interview yesterday as the British government prepares for its latest battle over forthcoming surveillance legislation that has been dubbed the "snooper's charter".

Internet and social media companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter have come under fire amid accusations that they are not doing enough to prevent terrorists using their platforms to plot attacks.

Encryption services on many sites are now so sophisticated that intelligence agencies fear suspects will increasing "go dark" and that they will lose track of them.

Mr Parker told the BBC 'Today' programme: "It is in nobody's interests that terrorists should be able to plot and communicate out of the reach of any authorities with proper legal power."

Even where the security services knew the identity of a suspect and had a warrant to obtain their communications signed by the Home Secretary, Mr Parker said there was still a question of "can we obtain those communications from that company?"

Facebook faced heavy criticism last year over its failure to disclose a key conversation involving one of the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was run down and then beheaded on a London street.

"In that case, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) concluded that had that happened it might have made a material difference to the outcome," Mr Parker said.

Irish Independent

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