After London Bridge the prime minister has wheeled out the usual scapegoat, and demanded controls on cyberspace – but that would open a Pandora’s box
We can feel pretty certain that the London Bridge attackers did the following things: owned smartphones; and used Google, YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp. That isn’t because owning those things and using those services marks you out as a terrorist: it’s because it marks you out as someone living in the west in the 21st century.
The problem, as those companies (actually only two: Google owns YouTube, and Facebook owns WhatsApp) are discovering, is that politicians aren’t too picky about the distinction. Speaking outside 10 Downing St this morning, Theresa May was much more aggressive in her tone than previously. The London Bridge attack had its roots in Islamic extremism, she observed: “We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services, provide.” She continued: “We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorism planning.”