'Tech giants who encrypt comms are unwittingly aiding terrorists', claims ex-Home Sec Blunkett

Labour MP is never far away from Fear Agenda script

Former, draconian Home Secretary David Blunkett – who held the post at the time of the 9/11 attacks in the US – has claimed that technology companies that encrypt communications on their networks are helping terrorists to spread fear.

The Labour MP, writing in Saturday's Daily Telegraph, lambasted Martha Lane-Fox for telling the BBC Radio 4's Today programme earlier this week that the new GCHQ spymaster, Robert Hannigan, had been "reactionary and slightly inflammatory."

Lane-Fox, who co-founded Lastminute.com, had responded to comments made by Hannigan, after he claimed that US tech firms, who had improved the security of their products for netizens, had "become the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals".

Blunkett, who – during his time as Home Secretary – brought in the 2000 Regulation Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), said that "Baroness Lane Fox and others in her industry should wake up to reality".

He added:

Now is not the time for lofty disengagement or disinterest. Tech companies who provide encrypted – and therefore secret – communications online are, albeit unwittingly, helping terrorists to co-ordinate genocide and foster fear and instability around the world.

The politico, who is expected to stand down from Parliament at next year's General Election, claimed that "freely available technology" had allowed terrorists to "remain completely anonymous."

Blunkett said:

[W]e should not capitulate to the big communications giants: they cannot be allowed to get away with the absurd idea that they hold no responsibility for what is transmitted on the platforms they provide.

These companies may be transnational and are therefore not subject to the laws or requirements of any individual country. But those who run them have a moral responsibility: they must stop pretending that they are citizens of a parallel universe.

They exist in and depend on the world around them just as much as everyone else.

He ended his broadside against the likes of Google, Twitter and Facebook by adding that regular legislative overhauls to RIPA were needed, alongside a strengthening of ties between tech giants and spooks. ®

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