‘Net is becoming command centre for militants’

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Nov 05, 2014 01:27 IST

Chief of one of Britain’s intelligence organisations wants greater cooperation with tech firms to deal with the challenge of Islamic extremists who have been increasingly using the Internet, according to him, as their ‘command-and-control’ centre.

Writing in the Financial Times on Tuesday, Robert Hannigan, chief of GCHQ, said the ISIS (Islamic State of Syria and the Levant) was the ‘first terrorist group whose members have grown up on the Internet. They are exploiting the power of the Web to create a jihadi threat with near-global reach".http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/11/05_11_14-metro20b.gif

Terming the challenge to governments and intelligence agencies as ‘huge’, he said it could only be met with ‘greater co-operation from technology companies’, such as Facebook and Twitter. Privacy groups interpreted his article as another state attempt to intrude into private lives of citizens.

“Terrorists have long made use of the internet. But ISIS approach is different in two important areas. Where al Qaeda saw the Internet as a place to disseminate material anonymously or meet in ‘dark spaces’, ISIS has embraced the Web as a noisy channel in which to promote itself, intimidate people, and radicalise new recruits”, he wrote. “GCHQ and its sister agencies, MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service, cannot tackle these challenges at scale without greater support from the private sector”.

“I understand why they have an uneasy relationship with governments”. “However much they may dislike it, they have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us. If they are to meet this challenge, it means coming up with better arrangements for facilitating lawful investigation by security and law enforcement agencies”.

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