Feeds

Social networks likely to snub Home Office in riot confab

Twitter may be irritating, but it doesn't cause looting

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The Home Secretary is expected to face fierce opposition from popular social network outfits today when she will ask them to consider restricting access to individuals in the aftermath of unrest in England earlier this month.

Theresa May is meeting with wonks from Blackberry, Facebook and Twitter, following evidence that, according to the Home Office, showed such messaging services were used to "coordinate criminality".

The Home Office said that the talks would help the government decide whether it should be able to cut off access to such online tools when individuals are caught inciting violence on social networks.

May's department didn't blame the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry's BBM service for being the cause of such disturbances as those that broke out in Hackney, Croydon, Birmingham and elsewhere for four days earlier this month.

But it did argue that the messaging services had been used to enable "criminals to communicate."

That's a claim which has already been shot down by an initial study of a database containing 2.5 million riot-related tweets that apparently demonstrates Twitter at least had many more reactionary posts to the unrest than messages calling on people to go out and loot shops.

UK's national policing improvement agency chief tweets about Twitter

A similar analysis of Facebook and Blackberry's BBM is yet to surface, however.

Both of those networks have been routinely cited in recent weeks by cops and courts who have cuffed and, in some cases, sentenced individuals to harsh terms for witlessly using such services to incite violence – even when their attempts were unsuccessful and only police turned up.

"We are working with the police to see what action can be taken to prevent access to those services by customers identified as perpetrators of disorder or other criminal action," said the Home Office on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, privacy activists and human rights' campaigners – including the Open Rights Group, Amnesty UK and Liberty – have written a letter to May in which they urge the Home Secretary to take a much more considered approach to what the collective sees as a knee-jerk reaction to the riots.

"First, we express serious concern about any such review of powers made in haste without proper consideration of the effects on legitimate communication, freedom of expression and privacy," reads a statement on the Open Rights Group website.

"Second, that such reviews must take place transparently with details of the meetings with communications providers made public as soon as possible.

"Third, that any such review must proceed through a genuine multi-stakeholder process, involving not only communications providers but groups such as those representing citizens' rights such as freedom of expression and privacy."

Twitter and Blackberry declined to comment ahead of today's meeting with the Home Office at lunchtime today. Facebook hadn't got back to us at time of writing. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.