LONDON, UK (CNN) – The head of Britain’s Internal Intelligence and Security Agency (MI5) is using rare rhetoric to demand tougher espionage laws to counter state threats and influence, naming them Russia, China and Iran.
In a speech Wednesday at Thames House, MI5’s headquarters in London, British Director General of Intelligence Ken McCullum called on technology companies to help find a solution to encryption.
“Today, being an undeclared foreign intelligence agent in the UK is not a criminal offense,” McCullum said. “Similarly, being in a key position of influence in the UK is not currently illegal, the country being secretly paid for by foreigners.”
“To deal with modern intervention, we need modern forces,” McCullum added.
“To be clear: the day-to-day operation of MI5 from government or government-backed organizations in Russia, China and Iran often comes in very different ways,” McCullum said.
In encryption, McCullum said: “I would like to make a public request that technology companies actively engage with governments – or with me if they wish – with regard to the need for public security concerns with regard to privacy.”
“The end-to-end encryption that Facebook is currently proposing will be a gift to terrorists,” he said.
“Let me be clear: we stand for strong encryption, we stand for privacy for citizens.” McCullum added that there is only one debate as to what is possible if there are strong reasons to believe that a person is planning serious crimes.
McCullum continued: “Cryptography should not be misrepresented as privacy or binary security: the public needs technology companies to find solutions that protect users’ privacy and support everyone’s security. This means legal access, on an exceptional, guaranteed basis, to the content of the minority population who use technology sites in a derogatory manner to the detriment of others. These tech companies are very good at what they do; It seems to me that they have solved difficult problems when they want to. “