Facebook or the state: who should be scrutinised for Lee Rigby murder?

Tuesday 02nd December 2014 07:21 EST

When the Intelligence and Security committee (ISC) reported that one of the killers in Lee Rigby's death posted plans to execute the British soldier in “the most graphic and emotive” manner on 'Facebook', there was a public outcry about the responsibility of official bodies in securing the safety of civilians.

The social network site was attacked for being too lax and negligent about saliently criminal matter being exchanged between users. PM David Cameron commented that IT companies such as Facebook were allowing extremists to “plot murder and mayhem”, and forwarded the opinion that they had a “social responsibility” to intervene. However the government itself has also been accused of negligence with the ICS also reporting evidence that Britain’s secret services, had been informed of killers' violent tendencies before too.

The Intelligence and Security Committee stated that the MI5, MI6 and GCHQ all had Adebolajo and Adebowale , the two Islamist extremists who hacked Rigby to death, flagged up as “subjects of interest” on their databases. Prolonged investigations into Adebowale, 23, meant a request for a warrant to search his home was not sent to the Home Office until the day before the murder while surveillance on Adebolajo, 29, was actually terminated altogether a month before.

A member of the ISC stated: “No 10 [is] trying to turn this into a story about a data communications. It is not. We are fizzing about this. This is the most critical we have ever been about the agencies — that’s the central point.” However they also said of Facebook “This company does not appear to regard itself as under any obligation to ensure that its systems identify such exchanges, or to take action or notify the authorities when its communications services appear to be used by terrorists.”

Facebook have denied facilitating the terrorist activity retorting in 'The Times' that “We do not allow terrorist content on the site and take steps to prevent people from using our service for these purposes.” The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, introduced on the 26th of November, will make it mandatory for internet companies to note data on computers that are being used to access illegal material.

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