David Cameron
A proposal by David Cameron to block social-network communication during times of unrest draws instant criticism online.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Thursday that he may block social media communications in England as a way to bring peace to his riot-torn country.

At an emergency session of Parliament, Cameron said that information “can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill.”

“And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them,” said Cameron in a transcript posted on the British Prime Minister’s website. “So we are working with the Police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.”

From his language to Parliament, it is not clear whether Cameron is proposing a general block on social network traffic, or some kind of ban on specific users suspected of violent intent. And it’s far from clear how either form of ban would be implemented, let alone whether it would be effective—or legal.

The notion of blocking social media comes after reports that Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Messenger system was used by rioters to organize their crimes.

Meanwhile, other reports indicate that Twitter has been used to organize cleanup efforts and anti-riot campaigns. It’s even been used by English police to arrest three rioters in Southhampton, according to the BBC.

The masses took to Google+, Google’s nascent social network, to comment on Financial Times reporter Tim Bradshaw’s post on Cameron’s speech. Many people believe the prime minister’s plan amounted to little more than censorship.

“Blimey, whatever next? Stopping people from talking/telephoning/writing letters?” wrote Chris Redd, of London. “There's a massive distinction between monitoring/intercepting communications for purposes of detection/prevention of crime and shutting down the channels completely for people so they simply can't be used.”

“This is like blaming fire for arson. Like banning matches or cigarette lighters because they cause people to commit arson,” wrote Daniel Harder. “Or banning baseball bats because they cause people to beat others up.”

Daily Dot executive editor Owen Thomas made a similar comparison in a column on the riots yesterday, comparing social technologies to oxygen—an element without which we wouldn’t have fires, but we also wouldn’t have life.

More than 1,200 people have been arrested across England following the death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in Tottenham a week ago, according to the Wall Street Journal. Over the last few days, the riots have spread to Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol and Leicester where judges “have presided over scores of cases” through the night, according to The Guardian.

Photo by DFID

Promoted Stories Powered by Sharethrough
Layer 8
A female Lebanese news anchor was told to shut up—here's what she did instead
Rima Karaki is a Lebanese TV host who isn't afraid of a fight. Things got heated Monday when Karaki was interviewing Hani Al-Seba'i about the phenomenon of Christians joining Islamic groups like ISIS. Al-Seba’i is a Sunni scholar who fled to London after he was sentenced in an Egyptian court to 15 years in prison for being a part of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The United Nations considers the group to be an affiliate of al Qaeda.
david cameron
Here's what it looked like at the U.K. face-sitting protest outside Parliament
On Friday afternoon outside Parliament in the U.K., pro-porn protesters organized a massive demonstration against new regulations from the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC). The demonstrators are angry that the new rules ban specific sex acts in porn, including face sitting, female ejaculation, fisting, spanking, and “penetration” by any large object.
The Latest From Daily Dot Video
Group

Pure, uncut internet. Straight to your inbox.

Thanks for subscribing to our newsletter!