Social media websites like Facebook have "a duty of care" to alert authorities when users reveal their intentions to take part in an act of terrorism, the stepfather of murdered soldier Lee Rigby has told Good Morning Britain.
Ian Rigby criticised Facebook for not sharing more information with authorities when it emerged one of his stepson's killers, Michael Adebowale, had spoken of his plans to murder a solider in an exchange on the social media site ahead of the attack.
Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo drove into the soldier before hacking him to death near Woolwich Barracks in May 2013.
Speaking after the release of a report into the security failings in the run-up to the attack, Mr Rigby said it was "a necessary evil" for social media websites to share information with authorities in extreme cases.
- Watch Good Morning Britain from 6am to see the full interview
A similar 'trigger' system to the one currently used by online firms to flag up child sexual exploitation should be used in the fight against terrorism, MPs have recommended.
A report released today found social media firms, most of which are based in the US, argue they do not have to comply with UK law and only are currently obliged to hand over information if it poses an "imminent threat".
It comes after an online exchange between one of Fusilier Lee Rigby's killers, Michael Adebowale, and an overseas extremist in which he set out his plan.
ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner reports:
Internet firms need to act to prevent terrorists from plotting "murder and mayhem" on their networks, the Prime Minister has argued.
David Cameron made the comments after the release of a report by the government's Intelligence and Security Committee, which raised concerns over some social media companys' policies when it came to tackling suspicious behaviour online.
ITV News UK editor Rohit Kachroo reports:
MI5 was almost a week late in submitting a bid to put Michael Adebowale under heightened surveillance, only submitting it to the Home Office the day before he and Michael Adebolajo murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby, it has emerged.
Despite having a target time of seven days, the government’s Intelligence and Security Committee found the application took almost twice that time. If it had been submitted within the target time frame, the report found Adebowale would almost certainly have been under “intrusive” scrutiny in the days leading up to – and the day of – the attack.
The report went on to say while it was “improbable” that any coverage would have uncovered Adebowale’s plans, the delay was “significant”.
If the application had not taken nearly twice as long as it should have, MI5 would probably have had these techniques in place in the days before the attack.
While post-event analysis has not provided any evidence that these techniques would have revealed anything that might have helped prevent the attack on 22 May 2013, there can be no certainty of this.
The uncle of murdered soldier Fusilier Lee Rigby has said he hopes a report into what intelligence services knew ahead of the attack will be used to make a difference.
Raymond Dutton, who lives in Manchester, also admitted he did not believe his nephew’s murder could have been prevented, adding: “He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
If we're going to safeguard our citizens on the streets of Great Britain then this report needs to be looked into in fine detail.
Hopefully any learning from the report will be put to good use and then Lee's death wouldn't have been in vain.
Intelligence services have today been cleared of any blame over the brutal killing of soldier Lee Rigby, in an official report which found they could not have prevented the tragedy.
But the report also reveals an online conversation by one of Fusilier Rigby’s killers, Michael Adebowale, had discussed in graphic detail his intention to kill a soldier with an overseas extremist on a social media platform, believed to have been Facebook.
ITV News UK editor Rohit Kachroo reports:
Facebook hosted an exchange between Michael Adebowale and an overseas extremist ahead of the murder of Lee Rigby, ITV News understands.
In the exchange Adebowale spoke of his intent to murder a soldier.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Facebook said they took "steps" to prevent people using the site for terrorist purposes.
Like everyone else, we were horrified by the vicious murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.
We don’t comment on individual cases but Facebook’s policies are clear, we do not allow terrorist content on the site and take steps to prevent people from using our service for these purposes.
Internet industry experts today said suggestions that the government should expand its monitoring of online content could breach personal privacy rights.
A report looking at what intelligence there was of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killers before his murder has made a number of recommendations of social media companies, including installing an “automatic trigger” to identify potential terrorist activity and allow authorities to pursue it.
But experts say this is the equivalent of asking telephone companies to listen to phone calls, or the post office to read mail.
Executive director of internet rights organisation Open Right Group, Jim Killock, said:
The government should not use the appalling murder of Fusilier Rigby as an excuse to justify the further surveillance and monitoring of the entire UK population.
The committee is particularly misleading when it implies that US companies do not co-operate, and it is quite extraordinary to demand that companies pro-actively monitor email content for suspicious material. Internet companies cannot and must not become an arm of the surveillance state.
One of Lee Rigby's killers had 'almost no online presence at all', his brother has said in the wake of calls for tighter web surveillance.
Jeremiah Adebolajo said MI5 knew his brother Michael had 'little in the way of a digital footprint' and had no social media account or regular phone number.
Speaking in the wake of a report into what intelligence services knew about Michael, he said: "My brother was constantly and closely monitored by the security services. He had almost no online presence at all, a fact that even caused the security services to request me to keep a closer eye on him."
He called moves by the Government to expand monitoring of people's internet activities "sinister" and dismissed claims that closer monitoring of online activities would prevent 'lone wolf' attacks.
Here are the key findings of a report by the Intelligence and Security Committee into what prior knowledge intelligence and security services had of Lee Rigby's killers ahead of his murder.
- Lee Rigby's killers Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo appeared in seven different agency investigations as low-level subjects of interest before they murdered the soldier.
- There were errors in agency operations, where processes were not followed, decisions not recorded or delays encountered
- The report concluded that despite the errors MI5, MI6 and GCHQ could not have prevented the murder of Fusilier Rigby
- Agencies had no knowledge of an online exchange between Adebowale and an overseas extremist in 2012 in which he reveals he intended to murder a soldier as it was not reported by a US web firm
- Report says the unnamed web firm 'however unintentionally' provided a 'safe haven' for terrorists
- 'Highly unlikely' agencies could have discovered the exchange before the attack
- 'Significant possibility' MI5 could have prevented the murder of Lee Rigby if the exchange had been reported