The UK's cyber-security strategy released on Friday spells out the increased use of "cyber-sanctions", where those who misuse the Internet for criminal means could be barred from accessing social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as other web based services.
These measures were hinted at by Theresa May, the UK's home secretary in Parliament earlier this month, proposing new measures that would result in those who riot or commit disorder through means of social networks could face bans from these services.
But plans to introduce 'cyber-tagging' technology could be used to inform the authorities when banned Internet users break their bail or sentencing conditions by accessing the web.
But the UK government has not learned its lesson after a backlash from industry leaders, including Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, after the British prime minister David Cameron considered "turning off" social networks amid widespread rioting, that hit the British capital and other major cities over the summer.
On page 30 of the cyber-security strategy, it explains in more details:
4.28 In addition, the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office will consider and scope the development of a new way of enforcing these orders, using ‘cyber-tags’ which are triggered by the offender breaching the conditions that have been put on their Internet use, and which will automatically inform the police or probation service. If the approach shows promise we will look at expanding cyber-sanctions to a wider group of offenders.
Through the UK's anti-piracy legislation, the Digital Economy Act, web providers will be forced by law to send notifications to alleged pirates if they are found to be infringing copyright. The law can be used to restrict citizens' access to the web should they fail to comply with copyright infringement notifications.
At home we will maintain an effective legal framework and enforcement capabilities to disrupt and prosecute cyber crime. We will make it easier to report cyber crime and ensure that the intelligence from reporting is fed back into effective action and advice to the public. Where appropriate we will use cyber-relevant sanctions to tackle cyber crimes like online bullying or Internet scams.
But Joanna Shields, vice-president of Facebook in Europe, ruled out last month that the UK government would ever shut off access to social networks.
In response to Cameron's plans to shut down access to social networks amid future disruption, she said: "I don't think that is ever going to happen".
Foreign secretary William Hague was reportedly critical of the prime minister's comments, opposing the plan to censor social networks amid further civil unrest or riots.
Britain does not have firm freedom of speech or expression laws, unlike the United States, whereby these core human rights and liberties are constitutionally bound.