What do trends in mobile messaging have to do with terrorism?

Following an increase in terrorism activity in late 2014-early 2015, David Cameron announced that ‘there should not be any safe place for terrorists to communicate’ and that if re-elected, the Conservatives would introduce new powers to help authorities gather more intelligence.

But can an increase in the use of social media and instant messaging really be to blame for the government falling behind on counter-terrorism tactics?

The report highlighted trends in the way consumers are communicating – how the use of SMS texting has declined in recent years and that a shift had been made towards internet-based messaging apps and services.

These new apps are using increasing levels of encryption, ‘something which terrorists have been to exploit’, according to experts.

Margaret Gilmore, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute:

Sir David Omand, former director of GCHQ:

The interviewees in the film are: (in order of appearance)

  • Chris Unitt Freelance digital media consultant
  • Margaret Gilmore Senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)
  • David Haynes PhD on privacy, data regulation and social media at City University London
  • Sir David Omand Former-director of GCHQ