Encryption Keeping Tech Terrorists Safe, Warns MI5 Boss

By Gary Cutlack on at

Andrew Parker, the current head of MI5, has given a rare interview, using it to ask internet giants to alert authorities of suspicious behaviour -- but warning that high-end encryption is helping hoodie-wearing baddies keep their communications away from those who police online worlds.

Parker was speaking on the BBC's Today today, where he complained that encryption and foot-dragging by today's internet tech giants mean that authorities "...can no longer obtain under proper legal warrant the communication of people they believe to be terrorists," adding: "It's in nobody's interests that terrorists should be able to plot and communicate out of the reach of authorities."

Parker also made the claim that his agency had "foiled" six UK terror plot threats in the last 12 months, although he didn't go into any detail about what or who was targeted. But that's not come about from the mass-scanning of everyone, with Parker keen to kill off suggestions that everyone's having their emails scanned for bomb-making tips, explaining: "We do not have population-scale monitoring, or anything like that. We are focused, on behalf of the public, against those who mean us harm. And the powers that government is considering... will be powers about doing that in the modern age."

In short, he wants social media and internet firms to be forced to comply with all data requests, and is trying to steer the government toward putting such legislation into place, adding: "Some of the social media companies operate arrangements for their own purposes under their codes of practice which cause them to close accounts sometimes because of what is carried. I think there is then a question about why not come forward. If it is something that concerns terrorism or concerns child sex exploitation or some other appalling area of crime, why would a company not come forward." [Radio 4 via BBC]