UK gov U-turn: Won't censor social networks now

By Richi Jennings (@richi ). The UK government appears to have dropped plans to censor services such as Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry Messenger. After a recent meeting with the Home Secretary, statements from the companies...


By (@richi ).

The UK government appears to have dropped plans to censor services such as Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry Messenger. After a recent meeting with the Home Secretary, statements from the companies indicate a more progressive attitude from Westminster.

  • On the one hand, jolly good show; I'm glad to see sense breaking out.
  • On The Other Hand, how did this crazy idea even get on the table in the first place?

Plus, today's skateboarding duck: Donkeys are secretly plotting against us...

Jeremy Kirk comes in peace:
After the riots...Cameron said the U.K. would look at " whether it would be right to stop people communicating...when we know they are plotting violence." The suggestion...brought wide criticism.
But a statement from Facebook said that from the start of the meeting [Home Secretary Theresa] May "set the tone clearly that we were not there to discuss restricting Internet services." ... RIM, whose BlackBerry devices are popular with U.K. youth, called the discussions "positive and productive." ... BlackBerry...Messenger...has been blamed for enabling youths to quickly mass in key neighborhoods...hit with looting and arson. ... Twitter was more oblique. ... "We've heard from many that Twitter is an effective way to distribute crucial updates and dispel rumors in times of crisis or emergency." more.png

Kelly Fiveash considers censorship:
[S]uch a consideration, which has been rejected by pretty much every right-thinking netizen...appears to have been shelved. ... Instead the Home Office...focused much more heavily on how...companies can cooperate with law enforcement agencies.
[T]he meeting mainly involved talks about how the police could more effectively use social networks...rather than working out ways to restrict usage. ... During the...riots...the cops were just as engaged with social networks as the rest of the British population. more.png

Paul Lewis, James Ball and Josh Halliday crunch the data:
A preliminary study of a database of riot-related tweets...appears to show Twitter was mainly used to react [not incite]. ...[T]he data question the assumption that Twitter played a widespread role in inciting the violence in advance. ... More than...8% of the total related to attempts to clean up the debris.  more.png

Adam Clark Estes is succinct:
Cameron['s]...suggestion was met with a resounding "no." Turns out social media is actually a great communication tool.  more.png

And Andrew Charlesworth gives a concrete example:
One North London resident said during the riots she followed two Tweeters positioned at vantage points...who were issuing regular updates. ... "I felt like people were watching out for me, for the community." more.png

But Bobbie Johnson remains worried:
To most people, [Cameron's] reaction made little or no sense. ...[A]ccusing social media was a case of “blaming the tools”, rather than the individuals behind the riots. But...the proposals were merely one facet of a larger, dramatic over-reaction to anything related to the riots.
Fortunately, calmer heads seem to have prevailed. ... Hurray! But...we shouldn’t be so quick to celebrate. The original move was obviously wrong-headed...the evidence and the rhetoric are in pretty much direct opposition...but much of the political sphere and the media seems to have ignored that.  more.png

Today's Skateboarding Duck...

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Richi Jennings Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. His writing has previously won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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