UK politicians are calling for surveillance laws to be fast-tracked and are joining their US comrades in blaming Edward Snowden for leaking intelligence practices and making it easier for Islamic State (Isis) to hide its operations from being detected prior to the Paris attacks.
UK Chancellor George Osborne announced on 17 November that he would be spending an additional £1.9bn ($2.9bn) a year on cybersecurity, to enable the intelligence agencies GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 to hire an additional 1,900 staff to combat increasing international terrorism attempts.
Osborne made the announcement despite the fact he has been trying to seek ways to cut £4bn from the budget, saying that national security had already been on the agenda, and that IS would soon develop the capability to mount cyberattacks, in additional to its current propaganda efforts.
His comments follow an editorial written by London Mayer Boris Johnson in the Telegraph on 16 November, blaming Snowden for leaking information and calling for the new surveillance powers proposed in the Investigatory Powers Bill – also known as the Snooper's Charter – to be passed so that intelligence can do its job to "catch the b*****ds before they strike".
"To some people the whistle-blower Edward Snowden is a hero; not to me. It is pretty clear that his bean-spilling has taught some of the nastiest people on the planet how to avoid being caught," Johnson wrote.
"When the story of the Paris massacre is explained, I would like a better understanding of how so many operatives were able to conspire, and attack multiple locations, without some of their electronic chatter reaching the ears of the police. I want these people properly spied on, properly watched – and I bet you do, too."
Privacy laws stifling intelligence gathering
In the US, the CIA has been quick to chime in too – CIA director John Brennan told Politico that privacy protections put in place by governments after the Snowden revelations have made life much harder for intelligence agencies across the world.
"I can tell you that it's not a surprise that this attack was carried out from the standpoint of we did have strategic warning. We knew that these plans or plotting by ISIL [Is/Isis] was under way, looking at Europe in particular as the venue for carrying out these attacks," said Brennan.
"But I must say that there has been a significant increase in the operational security of a number of these operatives and terrorist networks as they have gone to school on what it is that they need to do in order to keep their activities concealed from the authorities."
Brennan added that following Snowden's revelations, intelligence sources dried up: "In the past several years, because of a number of unauthorised disclosures and a lot of handwringing over the government's role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists, there have been some policy and legal and other actions that are taken that make our ability collectively, internationally to find these terrorists much more challenging.
"I do hope that this is going to be a wake-up call particularly in areas of Europe where I think there has been a misrepresentation of what the intelligence security services are doing by some quarters that are designed to undercut those capabilities."
Isis used encrypted communications
At the moment, it is not known exactly how the Paris attacks were masterminded, and critics of the UK government have pointed out that the French already have even stricter surveillance laws that enable all phone calls and emails of suspected terrorists to be monitored without getting a warrant.
However, a senior European counterterrorism official told the New York Times that it was very likely that IS had used some kind of encrypted communications and had been "very security aware", knowing that they were likely under some degree of surveillance.