Home Secretary Amber Rudd has been accused of trying to use last month’s Westminster terror attack to give the government greater means of electronic surveillance powers.
In an interview with the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Major General Jonathan Shaw, the former chief of cyber security at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), said that the Government was trying to ‘use the moment’ to grab unnecessary surveillance powers and give security services more control.
“I think what they are trying to do is use this moment to nudge the debate more in their line,” said Shaw. “We are in real trouble if we apply blunt weapons to this, absolutist solutions.
“There’s a debate in Parliament about the whole Snooper’s Charter and the rights of the state and I think what they are trying to do is use this moment to nudge the debate more in their line.”
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Rudd said that there must be “no place for terrorists to hide.”
“We need to make sure organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.
She added: “In this situation we need to make sure our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.”
Speaking with Sky News in a separate interview Rudd hinted that the Government would be prepared to create new laws regarding communication through social media platforms: “I’m calling time on terrorists using social media as their platform… I’m giving them more than a ticking off.”
General Shaw added that he suspected “politics at play” in Rudd’s comments, arguing that if the Government pushed laws through to decode messages on social media sites such as WhatsApp, terror organisations and individuals would soon find other means and ways of secure communication with one another.