Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Accord with Technology Companies Essential to Combat Terrorism, Says Ex-UK Spy Chief

Cooperation between tech firms and intelligence agencies on data sharing is highly required to prevent terrorist attacks, believes Sir John Sawers, former chief of MI6, UK intelligence agency. Sawers retired from Secret Intelligence Service November last year and was speaking during a public function on Tuesday.

Image by Cristiano Betta [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons
According to Sawers, there is lack of trust between tech firms and government agencies, and there is need to restore this trust to fight against terrorism.

Currently, Britain has raised security threat level to second highest, which means that there is high possibility of a terrorist attack in Britain.

During his speech, Sawers cited recent terrorist attacks in France, Yemen and other countries.

17 people were killed in Paris earlier this month by Islamist terrorists. Two terrorists attacked Charlie Hebdo office in Paris on 7th January and killed 12 people, including three police officers. Terrorists killed five other people in two separate shooting incidents that followed Charlie Hebdo attack in France.

Sawers said there is need for new legislation to neutralize fighters who are returning from ISIS-occupied regions and are posing a threat to public security in Britain.

General elections in Britain are due in May this year, and national security will be of much political significance during these elections. Prime Minister David Cameron is advocating new legislation that will give better access to data generated in technology firms. Many people in UK are opposing such legislation advocated by Cameron.

Sawers said that attacks on UK are “inevitable” if intelligence agencies are denied to spy on technology firms and internet data of general public. He held that it would be like inviting problems if tech firms are allowed to build up areas that cannot be monitored by intelligence agencies.

Sawers also talked about Edward Snowden and blamed him for breakdown in trust between intelligence agencies and tech firms. He said that Snowden did not correctly informed general public about the abilities and works of intelligence agencies. He said that the unofficial co-operation between tech firms and intelligence agencies was badly affected by Snowden’ revelations, and there is need to restore that co-operation again.

The function in which Sawers presented his thoughts was organized to launch a study conducted by the firm Edelman on public faith in government institutions and intelligence agencies.

The study revealed that general public has greater faith in intelligence agencies compared to other government institutions. About 72 per cent of the participants admitted that they trust MI5, while 64 per cent declared they trust MI5. Only 43 per cent of the participants showed their faith in other government agencies.

Author: Devender Kundaliya