Intelligence and Security Committee/2013-11-7-Hearing

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Allegations of damage from the Guardian

SIR IAIN LOBBAN: … What we have seen over the last five months is near daily discussion amongst some of our targets, and I will bring out some, I will give you an example, we have seen terrorist groups in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and elsewhere in South Asia, discussing the revelations in specific terms, in terms of the communications packages that they use, the communications packages that they wish to move to.

CHAIRMAN: Do you mean this is online or are you saying you have other ways of knowing...
SIR IAIN LOBBAN: We have intelligence on - we have actually seen chat around specific terrorist groups, including close to home, discussing how to avoid what they now perceive to be vulnerable communications methods or how to select communications which they now perceive not to be exploitable. I am not going to compound the damage by being specific in public, I am very happy to be very, very specific in private, but...
CHAIRMAN: We will ask you in private, but just to be clear: are you saying this is information which, from the way they have expressed themselves, refers to the revelations that have appeared in the press over the last few months?
SIR IAIN LOBBAN: Absolutely. It is a direct consequence.
CHAIRMAN: You can say that explicitly?

SIR IAIN LOBBAN: Yes, I can say that explicitly. The cumulative effect of the media coverage, the global media coverage, will make the job that we have far, far harder for years to come. There is a complex, there is a fragile mosaic as Andrew has said, of strategic capabilities that allows us to discover, process, investigate and then to take action. That uncovers terrorist cells. It reveals people shipping secrets, expertise or materials to do with chemical, biological and nuclear around the world. It allows us to reveal the identities of those involved in online sexual exploitation of children. Those people are very active users of encryption and of anonymisation tools. That mosaic is in a far, far weaker place than it was five months ago.[1]


  1. Uncorrected transcript PDF