The technology community has repeatedly stressed that banning encryption would be disastrous / EPA

'Right now the tech community distrusts government when it tries to intervene in this way'

Theresa May fiercely criticised technology companies in the wake of the London Bridge terror attack, but can’t expect to achieve anything by making "one-sided" appeals, says a cybersecurity expert.

She accused tech firms of providing terrorists with “safe spaces” online, and has called for the internet to be regulated.

However, Ms May needs to ensure the protection of citizens’ rights, before attempting to point the finger of blame at others.

“Any request for a tech company to do more than is required needs to come with corresponding government actions to protect citizens, so we don’t end up putting their rights at risk,” Simon Crosby, the co–founder and CTO of Bromium, told The Independent.

“There has to be a collaborative effort going forward, taking the rights of the people, the reputation of the tech community, and what the government wants into account.”

Unsurprisingly, Ms May's comments provoked widespread outrage, with technology giants including Facebook, Google and Twitter quick to defend their policies.

“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed,” she said. “Yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that internet-based services provide.

“We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.”

She intends to introduce huge restrictions on what people can post, share and publish online, and Amber Rudd recently branded WhatsApp’s use of end-to-end encryption as “completely unacceptable”. 

Confusingly, she also called for the company to let secret services read encrypted messages, despite the fact that not even WhatsApp can access them.

As the technology community has repeatedly stressed, banning encryption would be disastrous, as it would completely expose innocent people to criminals.

“It is perfectly reasonable to make laws that protect society,” said Mr Crosby. “However, right now the tech community distrusts government when it tries to intervene in this way. This is because they are being asked to break their promise of guaranteeing the security of their customer data by opening it up to the government. 

“What does it mean to a big tech company when a government asks to look at their data? They lose the trust of their customers. 

“Theresa May is not in control of this situation; the tech companies are, so she can’t make a one-sided appeal. Additionally, the broad use of surveillance freaks everyone out.”