Yesterday the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee published its report into the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby. One of the Committee’s conclusions was that the one piece of information that could have made a difference was an online exchange in December 2012 between Michael Adebowale and an extremist overseas, in which Adebowale expressed his intent to murder a soldier.
In the Committee’s words:
"Had MI5 had access to this exchange at the time, Adebowale would have become a top priority. There is then a significant possibility that MI5 would have been able to prevent the attack."
In response to the Prime Minister’s Commons statement on this report, Nadhim asked him if internet companies should have both a legal and a moral responsibility to create a ‘Rigby Rule’ - online systems which identify terror threats and pass them onto the authorities.
His question and the Prime Minister’s response is below:
Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-on-Avon) (Con): "It is the job of the House to pass laws to require internet companies to help to prevent terror attacks, but does the Prime Minister agree that companies such as Facebook, Twitter and other social networks have a moral responsibility—they owe it to the memory of Lee Rigby - to introduce systems, similar to the ones we have introduced to deal with child pornography, to identify terror threats? When they do identify them, they should have a Rigby rule and pass them to the authorities."
The Prime Minister: "My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Obviously, we can put down legal obligations in terms of complying with warrants from the Home Secretary and legal requirements on providing communications data that are vital in solving crime, but there is a moral responsibility, too. If companies know that terrorist acts are being plotted, they have a moral responsibility to act. I cannot think of any reason why they would not tell the authorities. The debate that will happen following the publication of the report will help to keep us safe."
Nadhim will continue to make the case for a Rigby Rule in the upcoming debate on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.