U.K. spy chief says Web is command hub for terror and US tech groups must help fight

U.S.-based social media have become “command-and-control networks” for terrorists and criminals, and tech companies are in denial about their misuse, the new head of Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency said.

LONDON — U.S.-based social media have become “command-and-control networks” for terrorists and criminals, and tech companies are in denial about their misuse, the new head of Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency said.

Writing in Tuesday’s Financial Times, GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan said British intelligence agencies know that IS extremists use messaging services like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to reach their peers with ease. He said spy agencies need to have greater support from the U.S. technology companies which dominate the Web in order to fight militants and those who host material about violent extremism and child exploitation.

“However much (tech companies) may dislike it, they have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals.” he wrote.

Twitter declined to comment on the story. Facebook — which owns WhatsApp — had no immediate comment.

Yet the problem is larger than the question of social media, said Thomas Rid, professor of security studies at King’s College London. Companies like Apple, cognizant of the privacy concerns of its customers, are installing powerful encryption programs on their devices. That leaves agencies like GCHQ facing the onset of encryption on a massive scale.

“You cannot make the Internet super safe and keep it unsafe for pedophiles and terrorists,” Rid said of GCHQ’s dilemma.

Although Edward Snowden’s leaks have focused the world attention on the mass surveillance powers of the National Security Agency, Snowden has accused GCHQ of being far more aggressive.

Hannigan said intelligence agencies need to enter the public debate about privacy.

Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online privacy group that is partly funded by tech companies, told BBC radio that intelligence agencies’ “powers are already immense. I think that asking for more is really quite disingenuous.”

Just Posted

Updated: SUV smashes through fences and deck in Anders

Driver taken to hospital after SUV veered off 30th Avenue into Anders

Art on Red Deer billboard a reminder of aboriginal women’s strength

Joane Cardinal-Schubert’s image is part of Resilience Project, shown from coast to coast

Red Deer’s new ‘equity co-ordinator’ will promote tolerance

Andrea Lacoursiere was hired by city with Alberta Human Rights funding

More bridge work this summer in Red Deer’s Coronation Park

The park’s north bridge is being rebuilt to ensure safety

Man badly injured in off-road vehicle collision on Saturday

Incident happened in Mountain View County about 10:50 p.m.

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Lava crashes through roof of Hawaii tour boat, injuring 23

HONOLULU — An explosion caused by lava oozing into the ocean sent… Continue reading

Banff holds blessing ceremony with Indigenous elders before letting bison roam

BANFF, Alta. — Several Indigenous elders were flown by helicopter into the… Continue reading

Research expedition looks at unseen depths of Labrador Sea ecosystem

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Last summer, a team of scientists returned from… Continue reading

Protesters camped outside Saskatchewan legislature taking province to court

REGINA — Protesters camped outside the Saskatchewan legislature say they are taking… Continue reading

British PM accepts key amendments from hardline Brexiteers

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday accepted amendments to… Continue reading

‘City of icebergs:’ Study says 100s of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

The statistics in her recently published paper say it all: hundreds of… Continue reading

U.S. hits back with WTO challenge against Canada’s retaliatory tariffs

OTTAWA — The United States fired back Monday at the Canadian government’s… Continue reading

Croatia gears up to give heroes’ welcome to World Cup team

ZAGREB, Croatia — Fans are pouring in from throughout the country as… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month