England's rioters threatened with Facebook, Twitter ban

England's rioters threatened with Facebook, Twitter ban

Summary: The UK's home secretary spoke in Parliament today to propose that those who riot or commit disorder through means of social media, could face Twitter and Facebook bans.

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Those who participated in violence, disorder and criminal activity during England's riots earlier this summer, could face bans from social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger, the UK's home secretary has said.

Speaking in Parliament today, it emerged that the talks between the major social networking and social media companies led to punitive measures against individuals, that break not only the services' terms and conditions, but also the law.

(Source: Flickr, CC)

The government had come under increased pressure to restore order, after the shooting of a man in Tottenham, north London by police only days before, led to widespread rioting across London, and then to other major cities.

Within weeks of the disorder subsiding, many were critical of the prime minister David Cameron's plans to effectively "shut off" the British web, as way of preventing the spread of messages from social media, which were being used to perpetuate and organise violence during the five-day riot.

In reply to a question by Heidi Alexander, MP for Lewisham East, one of the boroughs of London where disorder spread to, the home secretary Theresa May told the House:

"We discussed a number of matters, both how the police can actively use social media networks, but also the companies looking at the terms and conditions they have and when they might be taking people off the network because they might be breaching those terms and conditions.

Subsequent meetings have been held on a one-to-one basis between the police and the individual companies."

While social media was blamed as a means to spread disorder, many had used the platforms to engage with others to avoid the unsafe streets. Police had used Twitter in particular as a medium to communicate with concerned citizens and to dampen false claims and misinformation.

During London's Wired 2011 conference, it was ruled by Joanna Shields, vice-president of Facebook in Europe that Cameron's web shut-off plans would 'never happen'.

Last week, it emerged that Scotland Yard, home to London's police service, acquired mobile phone tracking and intercepting technology at great cost to the UK taxpayer, purportedly to be used to track the spread of rioters in real-time, but also to disable remote-controlled mobile phones in case of an imminent detonation.

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10 comments
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  • RE: England's rioters threatened with Facebook, Twitter ban

    Of course they should be banned! But why stop there? Duct tape is cheap and easily applied and reapplied across the mouth. It can be used to tie the hands behind the back, too!
    lyochim
    • Funny that Duct tape can be used for everything

      @lyochim
      except ducts!
      William Farrell
  • RE: England's rioters threatened with Facebook, Twitter ban

    How about some banning from the cities where these rioters reside? Let them live in the wild. Send them to an isolated island off the coast. We'll be back in 2 years to return any willing survivors to civilizastion. - Second offence - banning for life.
    inkwell
    • RE: England's rioters threatened with Facebook, Twitter ban

      @inkwell "Second offence - banning for life." And may I also add..A different and more isolated Island!!
      Rapid Rec
  • Better for the police to use social networks for intelligence

    If the rioters can do it, so can the cops. <br><br>But maybe a riot conviction should get your cell phone and computers confiscated.

    Forgot to mention...

    Always good to see an MP represent her district, instead of just her party. This is one of the advantages of single member constituencies.
    John L. Ries
  • RE: England's rioters threatened with Facebook, Twitter ban

    This story is bollocks.<br><br>- Breaches UK freedom of speech<br>- Breaches the EU Human Rights Act<br><br>Politicians blowing smoke out of their arses, with promises they know they have no chance of being able to legislate for.<br><br>Perhaps, like all governments, instead of talking big and generating reams of new legislation, they should consider the problem is lack of enforcement of existing laws.<br><br>If the rioters are guilty of public order offences, arrest them, charge them, prosecute them through the law courts and jail them if found guilty. Pretty simple, and what the UK public at large want.
    neil.postlethwaite
    • RE: England's rioters threatened with Facebook, Twitter ban

      @neil.postlethwaite@...Ok, I'm probably going to invoke some anger in a few... But IMO, this doesn't interfere with freedom of speech, only removes a vehicle to spread it. And again IMO, if people are trying to organize and carry out a riot where people and property may be hurt, damaged, killed or destroyed, then I have no problem with the ..Ah, interruption of service...

      Also, you may want to check with FB's TOS rules, I don't think they want their site being used for this....
      Thanks...
      Have a Great Day!!
      Rapid Rec
    • RE: England's rioters threatened with Facebook, Twitter ban

      @neil.postlethwaite@...

      Sorry this story is anything but "bollocks", and you sunshine, are talking out of your arse.

      The only UK law regarding freedom of speech is Article 10 of the Human Rights Act.

      Paragraph 2 clearly lays out conditions where freedom of expression can be restricted lawfully.

      "Article 10 ??? Freedom of expression

      1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

      2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society,

      in the interests of national security,
      territorial integrity or public safety,
      for the prevention of disorder or crime,
      for the protection of health or morals,
      for the protection of the reputation or rights of others,
      for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence,
      or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary."
      AndyPagin
      • RE: England's rioters threatened with Facebook, Twitter ban

        @AndyPagin

        The EU Human Rights act is EU law, not UK law, but it is enshrined into UK law by default, as part of the agreement to sign up for it.

        Your Google search seems to come up a little short, which almost all countries but Saudi Arabia, North Korea Burma have ratified the 2 below, which have freedom of speech/congregation etc as part of their core values.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Covenant_on_Civil_and_Political_Rights

        You also forgot to make any real point to your refute that the story was bollocks with politicians just blowing smoke out of their arses promising something none had a remote hope of delivering.
        neil.postlethwaite
  • lame idea

    So what's to stop them from buying burner phones and using their buddies computer gear?
    Put 'em in the stocks!
    Pete
    pikeman666@...