IT is entirely appropriate that security measures be updated to neutralise those who would destroy our way of life. The legislation to allow security agencies wider access to email and internet communications, already in place for phone communications, is being prepared.
At a time when the internet is used to manipulate elections, at a moment when the world’s pre-eminent terrorist organisation dedicates huge resources to online propaganda and at a moment when the State is dependent on a secure online infrastructure, anything less would be dangerously neglectful.
There is a caveat though. Entrusting our security agencies — the gardaí, the defence forces or the Garda Ombudsman — at a moment when the gardaí face huge credibility issues, requires a leap of faith not easily made. Be that as it may, this legislation is important.
This sad reality is underlined by the efforts, primarily by America, to curtail Islamic State’s ability to circulate via social media high-quality, and often horrific, images. US-led forces have targeted IS social media “experts” and last August used drones to kill IS second-in-command, Syrian-born Abu Muhammad al-Adnani and, a month later, its “minister of information” Wa’il al-Fayad. That is the high-octane, bloody outcome of not intervening much earlier, an objective facilitated by this proposed legislation. It must be introduced but those who use it must be supervised effectively.
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