England riots: Cameron's law: PM planning crackdown on rioters' social networking

Posted in: Censorship at 12/08/2011 19:54

Ministers and the security services are planning draconian powers to shut down or disrupt mobile phone messaging services and social networks in times of civil disorder.

Downing Street sources said they were considering the "moral and technical" questions of how to grant new powers blocking all mobile communications to prevent rioters organising through websites such as Twitter and the BlackBerry Messenger service.

To read this report in The Independent in full, see:

Also see:

England riots: Government mulls social media controls
The government is exploring whether to turn off social networks or stop people texting during times of social unrest.

David Cameron said the intelligence services and the police were exploring whether it was "right and possible" to cut off those plotting violence.

Texting and Blackberry Messenger are said to have been used by some during this week's riots.

British Prime Minister Does a 180 on Internet Censorship
After several days of destructive riots throughout the UK, British Prime Minister David Cameron is practically tripping over himself in his eagerness to sacrifice liberty for security. In a speech before an emergency session of Parliament today, Cameron highlighted concern over rioters' use of social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter:

Concern that social networks to be targeted as BlackBerry helps British police identify rioters
Reporters Without Borders is worried about cooperation between Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian manufacturer of the popular BlackBerry smartphone, and the British authorities in the wake of this week's rioting in London and other cities in which, according to the authorities, rioters used its messaging service, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), to communicate with each other.

BBM uses the Internet rather than the mobile phone network and requires user authentication, which makes it hard for the authorities to intercept messages. To help address this difficulty, RIM has already provided Scotland Yard with information about a number of BlackBerry users, jeopardizing their personal data.

"We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can," RIM announced on Twitter.

Don't shoot the instant messenger: David Cameron's social media shutdown plan won't stop UK riots
There's a colourful and evocative term among regular users of social media: "headdesking".

It's what you do when somebody says or does something so stupid that your instant reaction is to smack your head on the surface of your desk, repeatedly.

David Cameron's thought bubble (let's be charitable and call it that) in the UK parliament yesterday, in which he said it might be a good idea to shut down social networking services if there were to be a repeat of the riots that have rocked Britain, is one such moment.

It is, to be blunt, just staggeringly dumb.

Rioting leads to Cameron call for social media clampdown
Facebook has responded to David Cameron's calls for a clampdown on social networking sites by saying it has already actively removed several "credible threats of violence" related to the riots across England.

The prime minister told parliament on Thursday that Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion (Rim), the maker of BlackBerry devices, should take more responsibility for content posted on their networks, warning the government would look to ban people from major social networks if they were suspected of inciting violence online.
Mike Conradi, partner and telecoms specialist at the London law firm DLA Piper, said that emergency measures to stop rioters communicating on social media sites would require legislation and threaten free speech.

Conradi said: "What David Cameron appears to be wanting is a police power to trawl through millions of messages - ideally in real time - to prevent possible criminal activity. I don't believe that any such power exists and nor would I want there to be one.

Cameron Exploring Crackdown on Social Media After Riots
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said Thursday that the government, seeking to prevent a repeat of riots and looting in London and other British cities this week, might bar suspected troublemakers from using social media and other digital communications tools.

Mr. Cameron said that Theresa May, the Home secretary, would meet with executives of the Web companies Facebook and Twitter, as well as Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, to discuss possible measures that could be put in place.

digits: London Weighs Social Media Crackdown
As social media's role in the London riots is explored, British politicians are considering whether temporarily banning or censoring sites like Twitter and Facebook would quell or enflame the tensions, Cassell Bryan-Low reports from London.


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