Government considering social-media kill switch
By Nicole Kobie
Posted on 11 Aug 2011 at 11:58
The Government is considering whether it can - or should - shut down social-media sites in the fall-out from the UK riots.
Several people have been arrested for inciting violence over Facebook and Twitter, while BlackBerry has offered its help to police following rumours its Messenger service was being used to coordinate looting.
However, social media has also been used to organise the clean-up efforts.
Speaking to recalled MPs in a special sitting of Parliament, Prime Minister David Cameron has said the Government is considering whether it was "right" to block such communications.
The free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for ill
"Everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media," Cameron told Parliament. "The free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for ill.
"So we are working with the police, intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."
He didn't elaborate on how such services would be blocked, however.
Cameron also claimed "we are making technology work for us" and said policing agencies would continue to publish photos of alleged looters to help investigative efforts. He said "no phoney human rights concerns about publishing photographs will get in the way of bringing these criminals to justice."
What about the innocent?
What about the innocent people who want to find out what is happening, and keep themselves safe? Far more of them who would be wanting to use social media. Why should they lose because some thugs are using it? And surely them publicly declaring their actions is more useful to the police anyway?
By MJ2010 on 11 Aug 2011
Not just clean-ups
@gmpolice on twitter was quite useful for those of us in Manchester.
And GMP also has a Facebook page and a flickr account that are being used to try and identify people from CCTV footage.
By TBennett on 11 Aug 2011
@gmpolice were very good I agree. Not just for keeping us informed but also for help in squashing rumours.
Even if at times they sounded like 2000AD parody.
By Evert on 11 Aug 2011
They should tackle the core problems, not faff about with PR stunts like this.
A generation raised with no discipline in the home, certainly none at school and nothing but contempt for a largely absentee and ineffectual police force.
Tackling that would be hard work though.
By Lacrobat on 11 Aug 2011
What about group messaging and other sites?
Shall we turn off mobile phones as well? Then the people who are stuck in the midst of trouble or who see a crime being committed won't be able to get help.
How about we don't slash the number of police officers and the causes of the rioting instead of going for quick fixes.
By fiendishlyclever on 11 Aug 2011
"The free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for ill"
Yes but it's used for vastly more good than ill, and you stop both when you kill it. Only a fool would consider this for more than a few minutes before dismissing it out of hand. That Cameron went as far as giving a quote to the press about it suggests he's getting desperate.
By stuarthamlin on 11 Aug 2011
Trying hard to be seen to DO something
They will shoot themselves in the foot.
Leave social media alone. It leaves people able to report crime when the phones are jammed (as they were) and it allows police to trace the looting ring-leaders.
I'd cut benefits before social media.
By cheysuli on 11 Aug 2011
"whether it would be right to stop people communicating?"
Next stupid question?
Hardly surprising though, Governments from all number of countries and all kinds of political shades are looking for 'reasons' to stop the free (uncontrolled by them) flow of information both within their own countries and especially across borders.
By greemble on 11 Aug 2011
How about we turn the BBC off too?
It would be interesting to know how many rioters learned about the situation via BBC's News24. Self proclaimed the most watched news service in Britain.
If we're to shut down services that spread news quickly, where does that leave conventional media?
By ANTIcarr0t on 11 Aug 2011
And telephone system...
Why not turn off electricity and water, while they are at it!
The government is getting more and more moronic.
I live abroad and social networks help me keep in touch with my family and friends and find out if they are still okay.
Rioters have managed to organise themselves for centuries without the use of Twitter, Blackberrys or Facespace. Turning them off won't really help... Although it might actually get people talking to each other again.
By big_D on 11 Aug 2011
I'm sure people will be happy that, as soon as there is substantial trouble in their area, they will be hampered in telling their loved ones that they're ok.
By steviesteveo12 on 11 Aug 2011
Do politicians have a 'kneejerk' app built in?
It certainly looks that way.
By qpw3141 on 11 Aug 2011
Cameron again proving he is a belief-free clown whose only strategy is the Daily Mail Test. Way to send a great message to brutal regimes around the world: look! we censor our citizens!
By gavmeister on 11 Aug 2011
if governments band guns they would stop wars in Afghanistan irac ect !!!!
By keptho1 on 12 Aug 2011
Mr Cameron actually says
"to stop people communicating via websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."
Now to me that means ONLY stop them communicating WHEN you know they are using it to plot disorder etc.
I have no problem with that.
However I can't see it working. Would GCHQ be monitoring everyone for the words riot, loot or what.
It is all nonsense and wont happen.
By bigrob14 on 12 Aug 2011
Come on people...
Don't react like a hyper-active news editor on the Daily Mail. We all know that Cameron had no choice but to mention this to keep the blue rinse brigade happy. Putting through legislation to shut down Facebook, (not such a bad idea!),when the "yoof" go crazy is about as likely as any government minister understanding Hyper V. The legal implications would be vast and it would never get through the European courts where it would inevitably end up. Whatever you think of Cameron he is a smart cookie and he has to keep Miliband quiet for the benefit of his back benchers, The Express and The Mail.
By Viktor on 12 Aug 2011
Cameron smoked dope and smashed up a restaurant about the same age
Why doesn't Camo Ask Murdoch too organize the "free flow" of information. Maybe hack the phones?
By ANONYMOUS1312 on 12 Aug 2011
Eton and upward
Was Forest Gump a "blue sky" thinker?
By ANONYMOUS1312 on 12 Aug 2011
What do we expect from a government that supported the action of an ally that allowed them to go into another country and shoot a man, without trial, in front of his family before formally identifying him...
By CraigieDD on 12 Aug 2011
Never waste a good crisis
Even if it'll never work..
By luckyse7en on 13 Aug 2011
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