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Prisoners chucked off Facebook

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The Home Secretary reports he's successfully asked Facebook to pull 30 pages owned by prison inmates, but promises that better cavity searches will address the problem in future.

The comments came during a meeting with campaigners arguing for better victims' rights, as reported by the BBC, during which Jack Straw described the pages as "horrible, profoundly disturbing... deeply offensive to public morality".

Details of the offending accounts are scant. The BBC could only point to one murderer who claimed to be "down and not out", and said he'd like a remote control which could mute, or delete, people: none of which sounds particularly offensive to us - but then most of us have never been victims of violent crime.

But Straw rapidly turned attention to the problem of phones being smuggled into prisons and used to update such social networking sites. "We're dealing with crooks," he said. "Devious, manipulative people who actually have no respect for their own bodies so they push these mobile telephones into their body orifices." (Clearly law-abiding members of the public would never do such a thing.)

Straw went on to talk about the chairs that are now used to scan prison visitors, claiming that jamming radio signals in prisons isn't practical because of the inevitable leakage of the jamming signal into neighbouring areas.

That is, of course, just a matter of money: create a proper radio map of your prison and it's perfectly possible to generate a signal which won't propagate outside but will make a call almost impossible from inside. Companies such as CellAntenna have demonstrated that many times, and told us last year that the UK government would soon be putting out a tender.

But what the government would like is a big box it can put in the middle of the prison, working through some sort of magic-based technology, and so far no one's been able to come up with the goods.

Until that solution presents itself, the home secretary is reduced to "set[ing] up a better system with Facebook, so essentially if they get a notice... all they have to do is not make a judgement about it, just press the delete button." ®

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