LONDON — The debate is raging in the United Kingdom over how best to balance public safety, privacy and free speech after the third major terrorist attack in as many months.
Ahead of the country's election this week, Prime Minister Theresa May pointed her finger at U.S. tech companies, accusing them of not having done enough to weed out extremists in cyberspace.
"There is, to be frank, too much tolerance of extremism in our country," she said after seven people died and nearly 50 others were injured in an attack Saturday night in the heart of the British capital.
"We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed,"May said. "Yet that is precisely what the internet and the big companies that provide internet-based service provide."
"If you turn around and just blame that message exclusively on the internet, we're making an enormous mistake," Kerry said. "And if we reach too far without being sensitive to our own values, we give them an extraordinary victory."
Digital privacy groups argue that giving up freedom online is dangerous for the rest of the public.
"It puts us in the unfortunate position of having the government on the same side as the terrorists," said Maria Farrell, an internet policy development specialist with the Open Rights Group, a British-based nonprofit. "We're basically burning the village to save the village."
Some analysts say that while social media companies like Twitter and Facebook have been cooperative, many jihadists are moving toward encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp (which is owned by Facebook) and Telegram.