In a recent editorial in the Financial Times, the new director of Britain’s intelligence agency GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, argues that social media companies like Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter should give government security services greater access to their networks in order to foil terrorist attacks.
A number of privacy rights activists said they were disappointed to see GCHQ attacking social media firms rather than addressing what they said was “a lack of confidence in the agency” after recent revelations about the broad scope of its eavesdropping on the public.
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Social media companies in denial: British intelligence agency chief
British intelligence chief Hannigan said U.S. tech companies Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), Facebook Inc and WhatsApp were in denial about their unintended role as “the command and control networks of choice for terrorists”.
“It can seem that some technology companies are in denial about its misuse,” he claimed. “I suspect most ordinary users of the Internet … do not want the media platforms they use with their friends and families to facilitate murder or child abuse.”
Hannigan also noted that Islamic State militants are using the Internet to create a large militant network with near global reach just 25 years following the creation of the World Wide Web.
“The challenge to governments and their intelligence agencies is huge — and it can only be met with greater co-operation from technology companies,” Hannigan noted in his editorial in the Financial Times.
Twitter recently announced it had received 78 “information requests” from the UK government in the first six months of 2014. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) notes that organizations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity are not permitted on its site.
Prime Minster’s office agrees with Hannigan
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said the Cameron fully agreed with Hannigan’s comments.
“The prime minister very much shares the view that is being expressed there around the use of web-enabled, Internet access technologies by violent and extremist groups amongst others and the need to do more,” the spokesperson said.