John Reid: Tech industry must fight terrorism

Home Secretary asks IT industry to aid the government, and warns of terrorist threat 'to bleed us to bankruptcy'
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Home Secretary John Reid has called on the security and technology industries to aid the UK government's counter-terrorist efforts.

Reid, speaking at an anti-terror technology conference in London on Tuesday, said that business must innovate and compete to stay "one step ahead" of the game.

"Islamist terrorism embodies much of what threatens our security today," said Reid. "It is vital that enterprises sustain delivery of innovation at a pace that outstrips terrorists. Resilience must, by definition be enduring. And endurance in changing circumstances requires continuing innovation."

The Home Secretary predicted a sustained war of attrition against terrorists, and warned that economic disruption was a substantial threat.

"Al-Qaeda's threat to bleed us to bankruptcy is clear. This threat will last a long while. The struggle will be long, wide, and deep. To respond adequately we have to employ all aspects of a free society in a multi-faceted response," Reid said.

In a clear signal to industry that the government wants to work yet more closely with it, Reid said that close public/private partnerships would "enable the state to promote the security of citizens". Counter-terrorist efforts needed to be "sustained in a way that keeps us ahead of the enemy", with an emphasis on the speed of delivery, said Reid.

However, Reid warned that while the security community must innovate, it must not ignore essential values of liberty.

"Your task is not only to innovate, but to devise a way to respond to the heinous threat in proportion to our values of liberty and openness. Everyone is involved in the struggle to enhance our values."

Reid said that he favoured the advancement of a security innovation taskforce composed of public- and private-sector organisations. According to Reid, the public, private, and voluntary sectors "need to utilise all of [their] skills and expertise in the battle against terror".

Reid was speaking at the Security and Resilience Forum organised by Smiths Detection, a security hardware company.

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