Wednesday, 26 November 2014
UK Prime Minister - David Cameron Wants Google, Facebook an WhatsApp To Monitor Terrorist Threats
Under existing legislation, British companies are obliged to provide the intelligence and law enforcement agencies with access to communications, if agencies suspect an individual is involved in terrorism.
However, this does not extend to US companies. The Rigby report goes into unusual detail about the problems facing intelligence services as they trawl for information, highlighting the legal restrictions faced by MI5 and GCHQ as they try to disrupt terrorism.
American companies have made it clear they would hand over information “in an emergency situation” involving risk of death or serious physical injury, but they will not cooperate with a fishing exercise. Complying with Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act – the main piece of legislation used to access communications in the UK – would actually leave American companies in breach of US laws.
The Rigby report is likely to reignite the row over the so-called “snooper’s charter”.
In the aftermath of Drummer Rigby’s death, Conservative MPs attacked Nick Clegg for scuppering the Communications Data Bill, which was dropped from last year’s Queen’s speech at his insistence. Mr Clegg hailed the collapse of the bill as a victory for civil liberties.
After the Woolwich attack, the Liberal Democrats refused to change their position. Julian Huppert, the Lib Dem MP for Cambridge and a leading opponent of the bill, insisted that the arguments were “unaffected by these tragic events".
“This [the Woolwich murder] wouldn’t have been prevented by finding out what people do when they are on Facebook,” he said.
The report makes it clear that one of the murderers had, in fact, been discussing his plans on Facebook.
The timing of the Rigby report has created a “sympathetic environment” for a tough new crack down on extremism, according to Intelligence and Security committee sources.
One member said that the diaries of the committee’s members had been cleared for the publication of the report two weeks ago.
However it was then delayed by the Government to this week, on the eve of the publication on Wednesday of a new Counter Terrorism and Security Bill.
One source said: “The whole thing has created a sympathetic environment for the introduction of legislation.”
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, confirmed that he was concerned about the timing of the report so near to the publication of the new legislation.
The Prime Minister had access to various drafts of the report as well as the unredacted draft of the final version. Mr Cameron made it clear that he wants internet companies to monitor for potential terror threats, highlighting past problems with child pornography.
"Some people say, 'You cannot change this and nothing can be done.' I do not accept that," said Mr Cameorn. "In the case of child pornography, to start with, when we made suggestions about, for example, not returning search items on disgusting child pornography terms, we were told that that was impossible. Now the internet companies have put that in place."
The Telegraph, UK