Facebook could be hit with FINES if MI5 is denied access to secret messages, Priti Patel warns
- Priti Patel warned the social media firm was operating in ‘dangerous territory’
- It comes amid plans for stronger ‘end-to-end encryption’ visible only to sender
- Home Secretary is concerned the move could block hundreds of investigations
Facebook could be fined if British spies are denied access to messages on the tech giant’s apps, it emerged yesterday.
Priti Patel warned that the social media firm was operating in ‘dangerous territory’ and risking public safety with its plans for stronger encryption.
With ‘end-to-end encryption’, messages on Facebook Messenger and Instagram would only be visible to the sender and receiver.
Miss Patel told Times Radio yesterday: ‘We’ll bring changes, we will legislate [and] we will absolutely fine companies because this is a dangerous territory for Facebook to be operating in’
The Home Secretary is concerned the move could block hundreds of counter-terrorism investigations, and prevent police intercepting other crimes including child sexual exploitation.
The Security Service and the police want Facebook to be able to see users’ content and share it with authorities if necessary.
Miss Patel told Times Radio yesterday: ‘We’ll bring changes, we will legislate [and] we will absolutely fine companies because this is a dangerous territory for Facebook to be operating in.’
MI5’s director general Ken McCallum last week accused the social media giant of giving terrorists a ‘free pass’ with its plan.
But a Facebook spokesman said: ‘End-to-end encryption is already the leading security technology used by many services to keep people safe from hackers and criminals.
‘Its full rollout on our messaging services is a long-term project and we are building strong safety measures into our plans.’
Last week Mr McCallum warned that decisions taken by executives in Silicon Valley were now having a direct effect on the ability of the security services to disrupt the activities of terrorists or child sex abuse rings.
‘It is the case, especially around default encryption, that decisions taken in California boardrooms are every bit as relevant to our ability to do our jobs as decisions taken in Afghanistan or Syria,’ he said.
He said if the authorities had information someone was building a bomb or filming a martyrdom video in their living room they would be able to apply for a warrant from the Home Secretary and a senior judge.
MI5’s director general Ken McCallum last week accused the social media giant of giving terrorists a ‘free pass’ with its plan
‘We would then be able to access that room, have a look at whether a bomb is indeed being built or not. And we need to have that ability online also,’ he said.
‘If you have end-to-end default encryption with absolutely no means of unwrapping that encryption, you are in effect giving those rare people – terrorists or people who are organising child sexual abuse online, some of the worst people in our society – a free pass where they know that nobody can see into what they are doing in those private living rooms.
‘This is an unsolved problem, which needs proper attention. We are not in any way seeking some form of surveillance state.’