'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. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • India reveals home-grown server that won't worry the leading edge

    And a National Blockchain Strategy that calls for gov to host BaaS

    India's government has revealed a home-grown server design that is unlikely to threaten the pacesetters of high tech, but (it hopes) will attract domestic buyers and manufacturers and help to kickstart the nation's hardware industry.

    The "Rudra" design is a two-socket server that can run Intel's Cascade Lake Xeons. The machines are offered in 1U or 2U form factors, each at half-width. A pair of GPUs can be equipped, as can DDR4 RAM.

    Cascade Lake emerged in 2019 and has since been superseded by the Ice Lake architecture launched in April 2021. Indian authorities know Rudra is off the pace, and said a new design capable of supporting four GPUs is already in the works with a reveal planned for June 2022.

    Continue reading
  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021