The UK government was 'not hypocritical' in considering restricting the use of social media during the London riots, yet praising the Arab Spring movements, according to foreign secretary William Hague.
The UK government will not restrict or shut down social media such as Twitter during UK civil unrest, Hague told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.
"It's not hypocritical — the government will not contain or shut down social media in response to the events in August," said Hague. "Shutting down social media will not be our response."
Hague spoke to ZDNet UK at a security conference in London, where he had earlier given a speech praising events the Arab Spring movements: a series of protests against governments in North Africa and the Middle East which had been orchestrated through the use of social media.
"Britain will always be on the side of people aspiring for political and economic freedom, in the Middle East and around the world," said Hague.
In August, prime minister David Cameron considered restricting the use of social networks such as Twitter and Blackberry Instant Messenger, which were being used to orchestrate riots in London.
The Home Office later said that the police and social networks were looking for ways to "build on the existing relationships and co-operation to prevent the networks being used for criminal behaviour".
Hague spoke to ZDNet UK at a press event at the London Cyber security conference, where press movement had been severely restricted and controlled. Press were confined to a media centre, and not allowed to enter the conference proper, except for a half hour press event after many of the delegates had left. One session that the press were not allowed to attend discussed the importance of the free flow of information.
Hague told reporters at the press event, who had likened the situation to the press being 'kettled', that people had been able to watch a live-stream of the conference.
"The whole conference has been live streamed and people have been able to take part online," said Hague. "There are very few conferences that have been as open to the world as this one, and the media has to find its own place in that."
The conference live-stream, which only showed a small part of events at the conference, experienced a number of technical difficulties. The sound kept cutting out, and the conference servers periodically froze.