The new head of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, has called for social media websites to work more closely with intelligence agencies to help reduce the threat of terrorist organisations.
The GCHQ is an intelligence and security organisation which aims to keep Britain safe.
Hannigan believes that the use of social media websites have become one of the primary methods of communication that terrorist organisations use in an attempt to avoid surveillance due to the reluctance of many social media companies to work with surveillance organisations.
Hannigan stated, “However much they [tech companies] 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. The challenge to governments and their intelligence agencies is huge – and it can only be met with greater co-operation from technology companies.”
Hannigan added, “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.”
Jamie Bartlett who is the author of the book The Dark Net: Inside The Digital Underworld, believes that it is a very difficult issue to deal with due to the sophisticated methods that the organisations use to try and avoid censorship.
Bartlett stated, “It is incredibly difficult for them [intelligence agencies] and the police and indeed on the big internet service providers to actually get a handle on just how much propaganda, how much material is being produced and shared by Islamic State and other terrorist groups on these platforms.”
Bartlett added, “What we’ve seen with Islamic State and indeed every other terrorist group is quite a sophisticated way of avoiding censorship. Islamic State has been really very good at creating hundreds of different accounts on Twitter and Facebook and every time they’re closed down, they simply start again.”
There will always be a problem with just how much information people and service providers believe is a suitable amount to provide intelligence and security organisations.
It is therefore very important that whatever information you provide to a social media website, that you are happy and understand that it may find its way to an intelligence and security organisation.
Do you think that social media websites should be made to work more closely with intelligence and security organisations?