Social Media Has More Data On Us Than Any Government Does, Says Former GCHQ Director

10 September 2018, 14:39 | Updated: 10 September 2018, 17:17

A former Director of GCHQ warns that the 'lesser regulated' social media companies hold more data on the public than "any Government does".

Robert Hannigan described social media companies as "difficult and obstructive" in the period after the Edward Snowden revelations, saying that they weren't helpful in the fight against the Islamic State.

The former spy chief admitted that while things have since changed, there is "further to go".

"They are torn between wanting to make a lot of money and doing the right thing," he said.

"This came just after the Edward Snowden revelations, and relations between government and the tech sector were poisoned, and they didn't want to be seen to be helping government."

Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden. Picture: PA

Whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked top-secret NSA documents in 2013 that led to the revelations about US intelligence agencies surveilling phone and internet communications.

The documents revealed PRISM and Tempora, programs used by GCHQ and the NSA to monitor phone and internet traffic.

Mr Snowden was charged with two counts of violating the US Espionage Act and the theft of government property, and had his US passport revoked.

He landed in Russia aboard a flight from Hong Kong, and after spending a month in the airports' transit section was granted temporary asylum in Russia.