LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged on Monday to give security and intelligence services new powers to monitor Internet communications, as Britain set out its response to last week’s deadly attacks by Islamist militants in Paris.
Facing a tight election in four months’ time, Cameron promised that if he was re-elected he would bring in new laws to make sure that Internet firms were covered by rules that allow security services to monitor communications and, in some cases, access their content.
“Are we going to allow a means of communication where it simply isn’t possible to do that? My answer to that question is ‘No we must not,’” Cameron said after a campaign speech in central England, stressing that the attacks in Paris had highlighted the need for new laws.
He added: “If I’m Prime Minister I will make sure it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that makes sure we do not allow terrorists safe space to communicate with each other.”
Previous attempts to give security services greater access to data on communications and their content have been blocked by the government’s junior coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, but Cameron said he believed such powers were “absolutely right” for a modern liberal democracy.
The head of Britain’s eavesdropping agency last year called on technology firms Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc to allow security services greater access to their networks, citing their huge importance to militant groups.
Reporting by William James; Editing by Stephen Addison