On 3 Nov 2014 Robert Hannigan, the newly appointed director of GCHQ, accused social networks and other online services of becoming ‘the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals.’

The Economist (Nov 8th edition, 2014, P67), commented on Hannigan’s statement being a reaction to technology firms, reinforcing their products and services with strong cryptography, to keep or attract privacy-conscious customers.

However, if treason includes aiding and abetting enemies of the state, then are the social media sites that allow themselves to be used by terrorist organisations as a recruitment device inside the destination country, effectively aiding and abetting enemies of the state?  And if so, shouldn’t social media networks like You Tube, Facebook, their shareholders (who aid and abet the social network) and their senior managers be worried about such prosecution by their country of registration?

Qu: How is this different from a munitions company who produces weapons that then get used by terrorists or criminals? Ans: Firstly, weapons makers have to control distribution of their outputs according to the laws of the country. And secondly, the weapons themselves can be used for good or harm. The users decides how to use the product (possession itself may or may not be a crime), but the producer doesn’t go to great lengths to anonymise the identity of the user.