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The British government is considering giving police the power to use technology to control future unrest, by stopping rioters using Twitter, Facebook or BlackBerry Messenger to organize themselves. Wo

24 Comments

The British government is considering giving police the power to use technology to control future unrest, by stopping rioters using Twitter, Facebook or BlackBerry Messenger to organize themselves. Would you support such measures?

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Depends-- If it were to censor or block communications, then NO. If they flashed a message on the screen that said "we know what you're saying and you better not even think about going down to Tienanmen Square tonight", then I would support it in the sense that you take your chances when you revolt, then I would say MAYBE. But this question, I assume, is about the recent criminal mob actions around London, so if the police are doing their job of protecting the rest of us from hooligans, then the answer would be a definite YES.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Censorship and control of private media is a violation of rights. Will they restrict all cell phones? As I am sure cell phones were equally instrumental in organizing rioters. Or TV whose coverage likely encouraged others to join?

The US has already been down this road with things like our Patriot Act in restricting civil liberties in the interest of security. Benjamin Franklin warned us over 200 years ago that those willing to give up liberty for security deserve neither.

This is a knee jert reaction and a distraction from the real issues. If the UK and other nations wish to prevent this kind of problem in the future, they should try to address the issues that give rise to this much public outrage and anger. But that would require real work, which few politicians are ready to do. It is much easier to scapegoat something and try to pretent to be solving problems rather than actually trying to do so.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The UK and the West agrees with China that censorship is the correct answer to Twitter, FB, and BBM.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither" — BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

KanoJones. Yes indeed. A true statement.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

because people might need it for real emergencies.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Anti democratic

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Just like 911 bush used it as a way to avoid the privacy law act and eavesdrop on ordinary folks..

2 ( +3 / -0 )

You do not need twitter to call up a mob. Try the street

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Absolutely not. The west must not be like China, Russia and their ilk. If you believe in freedom and democracy then you must stick with it in good times and bad.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We should be fixing the broken society not waiting until the last minute when riots are starting. Restricting freedoms which may affect innocent people should not be tolerated. There are laws in place to prevent criminal having internet access of any type and if they break this they go to prison.

Always remember innocent until proved guilty.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Just like 911 bush used it as a way to avoid the privacy law act and eavesdrop on ordinary folks.

There is absolutely NO proof that they eavesdrop on ordinary people, just for the sake of pleasure.

I have NO problem if it means if can curtail a problem that is uncontrollable or from becoming a complete breakdown, then I don't see any reason as to employ these measures, be it Facebook, Twitter, gathering in the streets, etc.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@steve: A week ago I would have agreed with you but after reading the Sunday Times this week, I no longer do. Society is already broken in parts of the UK. I f I went back to live there and had to give up some privacy and/or freedom I would now. Enough is enough. I presume you were/are a 'New' Labour voter. Blair & Co. gave the people way too many 'rights' during their term of office and this is where it has led. Much like the previous Labour government int he 1970's eventually led to the awful unrest in the early 1980's. I'm really sorry to say this, but its people with your attitude to this problem make it worse. I'm pleased to see that the courts are remanding 'suspects' and not bailing them. Zero tolerance is the only answer. Next time (hopefully there will not be), the rubber bullets / water cannons should come out straight away.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

There are laws in place to prevent criminal having internet access of any type and if they break this they go to prison.

You seem to forget that the people involved were not criminals, (for the most part) until after they got together and went nuts.

What countries laws are you referring to that prevents criminals from access to the internet? China? North Korea?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It wont work what's to stop someone starting their own website ..however putting an age restriction on networking sites may work and a report button on group pages Facebook is just as much to blame i have noticed a lot of new groups coming out from no ware Facebook says i will never put a panic button even when you report a group for whatever reason Facebook are way to slow to act and always have been

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What countries laws are you referring to that prevents criminals from access to the internet? China? North Korea?

United States? It's a common criminal sentence when computers were involved in the crime.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Give them control? No, that's ridiculous and is censorship.

Make it clear that these are public forums and that the operators will open the records to the police? Sure, no problem. I think that the expectation of complete privacy in social media (note the word "social") is unwarrented. Basically if you say, "Hey mates, let's go burn down something tonight!" in your facebook status, then expect the police to come knocking on your door. Of course there's the old "common sense" rule here, the police shouldn't be granted access to go rifling through to see who's sleeping with whom.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Limiting the use within danger zones, or hotspots where crowds are gathered/gathering - why not? If you need to make an important call or text, just walk away from the crowd.

People against it clearly have a wall of pride & self-value: to me it's more important to control rioting than your need to text your friend. And if you have an emergency - it's your choice - what were you doing in or around a riot anyway?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, I don't exactly what is meant by "use technology". Could mean policemen posting as police on these sites and giving warnings, or it could mean tracing posts to homes and making arrests and outright censorship of and blocking and closing down of sites that are directly harmless as anything on the net is except for computer viruses. We are talking indirect harm here and the appropriate responses to that are very nuanced. But police tend to be very heavy handed. So I am giving this a great big NO since there are no specifics mentioned.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Riots, aka protests, and much more can develop for legitimate reasons, so the answer is no. Clamping down on these types of expression can stop change that needs to happen. I am sure Paul Revere would have agreed. Just imagine the British had outlawed horses back in the day. North America would all be like Canada. Hmmmm, maybe that wouldn't be so bad, eh!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The question refers specifically to using technology to stop rioters using social media to organize themselves. If restricted to that purpose, there's no infringement of democracy or free speech and no privileges suppressed. So with limits in place I'd say yes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

SwissToniAug. 19, 2011 - 04:03PM JST

The question refers specifically to using technology to stop rioters using social media to organize themselves. If restricted to that purpose

How could it be done without infringing on the operations of privately owned servers and websites? And once the authorities have that power, you know its the beginning of the end for net freedom.

Already child porn blocking priviledges are being abused as its been proven that non-child porn sites are being blocked using those powers. Its not worth it because we know it will be abused for starters. Next, we know they will just find another way. So its not even clever.

Clever would be to let them organize, let them set a time and place, then arrest the lot of them as they get together there. Who needs pre-cogs?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

FireyRei Aug. 18, 2011 - 01:48PM JST Limiting the use within danger zones, or hotspots where crowds are gathered/gathering - why not? If you need to make an important call or text, just walk away from the crowd. People against it clearly have a wall of pride & self-value: to me it's more important to control rioting than your need to text your friend. And if you have an emergency - it's your choice - what were you doing in or around a riot anyway?

Spoken like someone who has never been in a riot before. I have, and they happen quite quickly. When I was at University there was one. I was walking to class, and I heard some yelling and chanting, but it was none of my business so I just assumed it was some drunken party or something... and about 300 rioters came around the corner kicking over bins and even throwing benches through windows so they could get into the caffeteria and grab some drinks and snacks (yup, rioters want snacks too!).

I got the hell out of dodge as fast as possible, but not before I got punched twice in the face and hit with a bench across the back (why? because I was there and I was white). I managed to get to high ground and call campus security from a payphone. If I'd had a cellphone (I was a broke student and I couldn't afford one at the time) it would have been much easier to summon security or the police the moment I saw them.

... and this FireyRei is the problem with your hypothesis. You assume that everyone in the area is a criminal. A lot aren't, they're just normal people trying to go about their daily lives. Rioters don't issue convenient notices saying, "Riot here from 11am to 1pm, lunch break from 1 to 2pm, then resume rioting from 2pm to midnight" so that regular people know to avoid the area, or to leave their homes for the day so rioters can have convenient and unrestricted access. People need to be able to communicate during these times. They need to phone the police, warn off people who may be coming to work or returning home, call emergency services, etc.

Oh, and your comment about, "People against it clearly have a wall of pride & self-value" is unfair and inflammatory. You clearly have no idea what it's like to be in a riot, and no idea what happens. People need their cellphones ESPECIALLY during riots. I'd be happy with the police reading my messages if I happened to be in a riot area, because mostly they'd be me swearing about where the hell the police are and why they aren't doing anything. ... but your suggestion about shutting down cellphone services and expecting people to just "walk out" ... people get hurt in riots and they need to call for help. Your suggestion would get someone killed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It has my vote.

Censorship and control of private media is a violation of rights.

-yeah and killing, terrorism and other stuff should be legal because you like blogging, and facebook

In times of crisis some civilian rights are suspended that's an important article in most Constitutions, otherwise society would fall apart. Besides 30 years ago people didn't have internet, facebook , cellphones and they didn't complain.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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