LONDON (Reuters) – Intelligence agencies and technology companies need to reach a new agreement on data-sharing to prevent attacks like those in Paris earlier this month becoming commonplace, the former head of Britain’s foreign intelligence service said on Tuesday.
John Sawers, speaking in public for the first time since leaving the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in November, said trust between governments and technology companies had been shattered and needed to be rebuilt.
“There needs to be some new compact between the technology companies and those who are responsible for security if we’re not to see events like we saw in Paris last week … becoming more and more features of our lives,” Sawers said, also citing recent security incidents in Yemen and Nigeria.
He blamed revelations by Edward Snowden, the former US spy agency contractor who disclosed details of the extent of surveillance and electronic monitoring by the US and Britain, for the breakdown in trust.
The call for greater monitoring of online communications carried out through companies like Facebook and Twitter is a familiar one from intelligence officials. On Sunday, a former head of the domestic intelligence service said Britain’s anti-terror laws were “not designed for the current digital world” and no longer fit for purpose.
The issue has taken on greater political significance following attacks by gunmen in Paris which killed 17 people. Britain is on its second-highest threat level, meaning an attack is considered highly likely.