It’s become a strange quirk of modern society that we seem to have very little good to say about our intelligence agencies, even though they do a remarkable job. Since the July 2005 attacks in London, it is believed that the British security services have prevented at least one or two serious terrorist attacks on the UK every year. But because we don’t hear about the work they do, we rarely see their successes and only hear about their inevitable failures – such as stopping the teenage girls from Bethnal Green departing for Syria.
Unfortunately, their job is getting more difficult. You know this because of the increasing number of worried public statements from people who usually prefer the shadows. Yesterday, the head of MI6 Alex Younger said Britain’s intelligence services are involved in a “technology arms race” as they attempt to tackle threats posed by the “dark side of globalisation” facilitated by the net. Over the weekend, the head of Interpol, Rob Wainwright gave an interview to Radio 5 Live investigates in which he said sophisticated encryption software was “perhaps the biggest problem for the police and the security service authorities in dealing with the threats from terrorism”.