UK police says tech companies are too ‘friendly’ to terrorists
Tue 21 Apr 2015
UK tech and communications firms are providing loopholes for cyber extremists to remain undetected by creating systems that are ‘terrorist-friendly’, says lead counter-terrorism officer Mark Rowley.
The anti-terrorism expert today urged businesses, mentioning no names, to bear in mind their “corporate social responsibility” when developing privacy systems which often make it difficult for intelligence groups to access data needed to support criminal investigations.
“Some of the acceleration of technology, whether it’s communications or other spheres, can be set up in different ways,” said Rowley.
“It can be set up in a way which is friendly to terrorists and helps them […] and creates challenges for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Or it can be set up in a way which doesn’t do that,” he added.
In the wake of the Snowden revelations, top officers frequently argue that authorities’ ability to track militant activity online has been seriously hampered. Snowden exposed that government spies had been tapping data held by tech giants, including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo – a disclosure which provoked many firms to invest in new encryption services and privacy solutions in an effort to block federal espionage.
“Snowden has created an environment where some technology companies are less comfortable working with law reinforcement and intelligence agencies and the bad guys are better informed,” Rowley told Reuters.
“We all love the benefit of the internet and all the rest of it, but we need their support in making sure that they’re doing everything possible to stop their technology being exploited by terrorists. I’m saying that needs to be front and centre of their thinking and for some it is and some it isn’t,” he continued.
Ahead of the UK election on 7th May, David Cameron has promised to give cybersecurity firms and intelligence agencies more power over the monitoring of online communications data should he win.