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

WATCH: Red Deer teacher engages students with “cool” science experiments

On Thursday, he made fire dance to the beat of the music

Province purchases land for new Red Deer courthouse

Construction to begin in the fall of 2019

Parking costs in Red Deer are going up — so are parking tickets

City council raises parking rates by 25 per cent starting July 1

WATCH: Alberta Party leadership candidates in Red Deer

Three people vying to be the leader of the Alberta Party were… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… 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