The head of GCHQ wants a 'new relationship' with tech companies
Speaking at MIT, Robert Hannigan said "we should be bridging the divide, sharing ideas and building a constructive dialogue in a less highly-charged atmosphere." He calls for a "a new forum to facilitate this," and said that the Prime Minister will be providing more details on how he intends to achieve this in the "coming months."
Hannigan's speech is much less inflammatory than his previous remarks on cybersecurity.Shortly after he became director of GCHQ in November 2014, he wrote a column for The Financial Times in which he said that US tech companies' platforms have "become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals."
Hannigan's new speech comes at a time of unprecedented public debate over security in the digital age. In the US, the FBI is using the courts to try and force Apple help it break into an encrypted iPhone that was owned by a terrorist, with Apple countering that building the software necessary would be too dangerous.
And in the UK, the Investigatory Powers Bill is making its way through Parliament. It's the Conservative government's flagship new proposed spying law, that will for the first time lay a clear legal framework for spooks' activities in the digital age.
But it's also proving highly divisive: An earlier draft was heavily criticised by three Parliamentary committees, with one calling the bill at times "inconsistent and largely incomprehensible."
Not everyone is convinced, however. UEA law lecturer Paul Bernal said on Twitter on Tuesday morning that his reading of the bill is that it could "probably" allow the UK government to order the creation of secret backdoors, although the bill's language is "(deliberately?) unclear."
Here are more of Hannigan's comments, via The Telegraph:We recognise that we need a new relationship between the tech sector, academia, civil society and Government agencies."
I've no doubt that we will need a new forum to facilitate this, bringing together the tech industry, Government agencies, academia and civil society. A space where we can build confidence, have a frank dialogue and work out how we can best tackle the problems we all recognise within the law.
For our part we're fully committed to a collaborative approach and want to support this actively. The Prime Minister will be setting out further details in the coming months on how the UK Government plans to facilitate this dialogue.