Malcolm Rifkind, the chair of the Intelligence and Security select committee, is seeking to blame an unnamed ‘US internet company’ for failing to pass on suspicious online behaviour by one of the suspects to MI5:
“What is clear is that the one party which could have made a difference was the company on whose system the exchange took place. However, this company does not regard themselves as under any obligation to ensure that they identify such threats, or to report them to the authorities. We find this unacceptable: however unintentionally, they are providing a safe haven for terrorists. There is then a significant possibility that MI5 would have been able to prevent the attack.”
Rifkind is effectively saying it is the responsibility of every app, website, email provider or social network to monitor every single word written by its users for anything that could be at all suspicious, then pass the messages directly on to the security services. A cynic might say the implication is that if they do not, the security services should be allowed to do it themselves. Pure coincidence that today’s report was released the day before the government’s new counter terrorism bill tomorrow..
UPDATE: This is the verdict of civil liberties campaigners Big Brother Watch:
“The conclusion that a failing of an unnamed technology company should determine future legislation, whilst the catalogue of errors by the intelligence agencies is all but excused, is of grave concern.
The report revealed multiple failures by the intelligence agencies to use the powers available to them to monitor communications. The government should use this report as a blueprint to re-evaluate the decision making and record keeping processes of the intelligence agencies, as well as the training and resources allocated within the counter terrorism community.
It is vital that existing powers to combat terrorist activity are used effectively before any further intrusive legislation is considered by parliament. Failure to do this will merely increase the burden on the agencies whilst unnecessarily intruding on the public’s civil liberties.”