My message to MI6? I’m not expecting you to stop terrorism

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

SawersSir John Sawers, the former head of British intelligence outfit MI6, is reported as thinking that we cannot stop terrorism unless we spy on innocent people.

To which I say, fine. I’m not expecting you to stop terrorism.

Just like I’m not expecting you to stop domestic abuse by planting cameras in every household in the country. And I’m not expecting you to stop car crashes by taking driving licences away from everybody.

We live in a world of acceptable risks – as a risk-adverse world is hardly worth living in at all.

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And, unpalatable as it may be to politicians seeking re-election and frightened of social media backlash, if there is the choice between some people having ghastly things happen to them because of terrorists and all of us having our privacy infringed by the very people that we voted into power…

.. then I say, ok. I can live with some terrorism.

The-powers-that-be need to find ways to catch criminals, paedophiles and terrorists that don’t reduce our freedoms. Because our freedom is sacred. But if they miss some of the bad guys, sometimes, that’s an acceptable risk.

Just like we’re prepared to take a risk crossing the road, catching an aeroplane, or eating donuts.

By the way, those with long memories may recall that when Sir John was appointed head of MI6 back in 2009, his wife caused a potential security alert after she was careless with her Facebook privacy settings, and revealed details of their friends, family and the location of their flat.

Lady Sawers on Facebook

I’m surprised he allowed his family to use Facebook. Wasn’t that a bit, umm, risky?

Further reading:

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

6 comments on “My message to MI6? I’m not expecting you to stop terrorism”

  1. Explains why they needed America to win World War 2 ? Fix your own civics and multiculturalism issues ? The best defense is a good offense unless you have no defenses for the majority.

  2. Jacob

    Historically speaking, every society that gives power to its security apparatus at the expense of people's rights ends up in abuse sooner or later. Every single one. There is not one example exempt from that rule.

  3. Coyote

    Well you can't stop an ideal at all. In other words, spying is frankly irrelevant. Even if you could stop what I would rather call it – mass murder – the ideal will always be there because you can't exactly make someone not think something. You can by all means try to stamp it out but it is a futile task, generally speaking. Scarily, vicious regimes from the past that we're all familiar with also had similar rationale for (among other things) spying. It was also for their own gains (but getting away with it because they'd explain to the public that it is for their own good… sort of like here).

  4. Phil J

    MI6 cannot stop terrorism without spying on innocent people what he doesn't say is that they cannot stop terrorism if they do spy on innocent people either.

  5. Rhys Jaggar

    Quite why you think John Sawyers has any interest in anything other than covering up false flag mass murder events carried out by CIA/MI6/Mossad etc which are used to start the next war, sell more weapons and intelligence services, is beyond me.

    Intelligence is big business. Sawyers must ensure it remains so.If he does not, he is pensioned off. IF he prevents it, he is bumped off.

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