UK spy chief says big tech firms must help combat terror

Robert Hannigan is shown in Manila, Philippines, in 2008. He became chief of the British eavesdropping agency Monday.

Story highlights

  • New chief of UK spying agency says big tech firms must cooperate in fight against terror
  • GCHQ director Robert Hannigan says ISIS is skilled in the use of social media platforms
  • They "have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists," he says
  • In the Financial Times, Hannigan says intelligence agencies face a huge challenge
UK spy chief Robert Hannigan called on big U.S. tech companies to do more to help governments combat terrorism Tuesday, as he described social media as "a terrorist's command-and-control network of choice."
In an opinion piece written for Britain's Financial Times newspaper, Hannigan, the new director of UK government eavesdropping agency GCHQ, said there must be greater cooperation from the private sector to tackle the threat.
His comments play into the continuing debate over the conflict between people's right to privacy online and governments' need to ensure national security, intensified by the revelations last year of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden over mass government surveillance programs.
In a rare public statement, Hannigan accused U.S. tech companies of being in denial over terrorists' use of the Internet.
"They are exploiting the power of the web to create a jihadi threat with near-global reach. The challenge to governments and their intelligence agencies is huge -- and it can only be met with greater co-operation from technology companies," he said.