US Tech Firms in Denial Over Extremists

The new head of GCHQ has said technology companies have become "the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals".

Robert Hannigan believes there were are some internet firms who were in denial about how their services were being misused by groups such as Islamic State, and has called for better cooperation with security services from the companies.

None of the tech firms have yet responded to Mr Hanningan's comments.

Mr Hanningan believes the Islamic State is using the internet as a "noisy channel in which to promote itself by using messaging and social media services such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp and a language that peers understand."

He said that the security of communications added another challenge to agencies such as GCHQ, adding that techniques for encrypting messages "which were once the preserve of the most sophisticated criminals or nation states now come as standard."

According to Hanningan, GCHQ and other agencies such as MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service could not tackle these challenges without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web.

He said: "They aspire to be neutral conduits of data and to sit outside or above politics."

But increasingly their services not only host the material of violent extremism or child exploitation, but are the routes for the facilitation of crime and terrorism.

"However much they may dislike it, they [US technology companies] have become the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us."

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