Leading tech firms are aiding terrorist activities, says GCHQ chief

ISIS British fighters Reyaad Khan and Nasser Muthana in Syria 2014

British ISIS fighters Reyaad Khan and Nasser Muthana in Syria 2014

‘Popular with terrorists’ is the endorsement your company really doesn’t want.

But many technology companies’ online platforms have become the “command and control networks of choice” for terrorists across the globe, according to new GCHQ director Robert Hannigan.

Many jihadists fighting for ISIS are young, educated and digitally literate and have made effective use of services including Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, Tumblr and Instagram, in order to promote their message, gain followers and broadcast their activities.

Hannigan says that many firms are “in denial” about the role they play in helping terrorist activity proliferate.

In an article for the FT, Hannigan writes: “However much they may dislike it, they have become the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us.”

He says greater collaboration is required between tech firms and governments to stave off the threat.

“[Isis] is 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. The challenge to governments and their intelligence agencies is huge – and it can only be met with greater co-operation from technology companies.”

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