The new head of the British ‘spy agency’ Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) would like to point out the complicity of technology (companies) in enabling terrorism. And he did so with an op-ed in the (prestigious) Financial Times. This is as absurd as dragging Toyota through formal charges of abetting terrorism because their Helix trucks are the defacto modes of transportation for ISIS and other Middle-Eastern terrorist groups. The Internet, social media, wireless/mobile technologies and other forms of online communication are now very much embedded within the day to day lives of billions of people worldwide. They offer a very utilitarian benefit to these billions allowing them to stay connected, earn a paycheck, learn, be entertained and informed, etc.
The law enforcement and intelligence agencies from around the world need to start using the laws they already have in place to request the necessary data and do the investigative work necessary for successfully stopping terrorism. Do crimes get solved by investigative work and or because they are handed over on silver platters? Many online voices are not impressed by Mr Hannigan’s argument.
GCHQ and its sister agencies, MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service, cannot tackle these challenges at scale without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web. I understand why they have an uneasy relationship with governments. They aspire to be neutral conduits of data and to sit outside or above politics. But increasingly their services not only host the material of violent extremism or child exploitation, but are the routes for the facilitation of crime and terrorism. However much they may dislike it, they have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us. If they are to meet this challenge, it means coming up with better arrangements for facilitating lawful investigation by security and law enforcement agencies than we have now. (Financial Times)