NATIONAL: MI5 boss said tech firms have '˜ethical responsibility' to help stop terrorist threat

TECHNOLOGY companies have an '˜ethical responsibility' to help confront the unprecedented terrorist threat, the head of MI5 has said.

Wednesday, 18th October 2017, 8:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 2:42 am
Director General of MI5 Andrew Parker delivers a speech in central London, on the security threat facing Britain. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Andrew Parker called for companies to work in partnership with governments to stop violent extremists exploiting their services.

He said: ‘Addressing these challenges is about partnerships and ethical responsibility.

‘No company wants to provide terrorists with explosive precursors.

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Director General of MI5 Andrew Parker delivers a speech in central London, on the security threat facing Britain. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

‘Social media platforms don’t want to host bomb-making videos and communications providers don’t want to provide the means of terrorists’ planning beyond the sight of MI5.’

He acknowledged modern society’s reliance on a ‘myriad of brilliant technological advances’ and insisted ‘technology is not the enemy’.

Mr Parker, the director general of MI5, added: ‘I’m not somehow King Canute trying to hold back the tide of developing technology.’

But he warned an ‘unintended side effect is that these advances also aid the terrorists’.

Director General of MI5 Andrew Parker delivers a speech in central London, on the security threat facing Britain. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

He flagged up the ease of online purchasing, the use of social media platforms to broadcast ‘poisonous ideological messages’ and the ‘myriad of ways in which encrypted communication can happen based on the thousands of different apps that offer those services’.

Mr Parker said: ‘I believe there is a responsibility on the companies that offer those services to help governments be able to stop the worst excesses of human criminal behaviour.’

The director general did not single out any organisations, saying it would not ‘make sense’ to identify individual firms.

Concerns over the availability of terror-related material such as execution videos and bomb-making instructions on the internet have intensified after five attacks hit Britain this year.

Ministers have repeatedly called on social media giants to do more to stamp out the use of their platforms to spread terrorist propaganda.