Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/08/08/blackberry_riots/

RIM to turn in BlackBerry-using looters after London riots

Empathetic RIM plans to help police

By Paul Kunert

Posted in Law, 8th August 2011 15:42 GMT

BlackBerry UK has broken silence over the role its devices played in helping disaffected London yoof co-ordinate riots in Tottenham, Brixton, Enfield and Walthamstow this weekend.

The smash 'n' burn attacks on High Street stores and vehicles on Saturday and yesterday came days after the death of Mark Duggan, who was killed in an alleged shoot out with police.

But unlike the Arab spring protests, which used the very public social media forums Facebook and Twitter to rally the troops, BlackBerry's version of IM was the favoured mode in the capital according to anecdotal evidence.

BlackBerry UK – the official Twitter account for the troubled smartphone maker RIM – made a move away from dishing out technical advice to users.

"We feel for those impacted by the riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can," it stated.

Catching the fire-starters retrospectively is possible as RIM can pass over decrypted versions of BBM chatter.

The reasons the kids love BBM is that it's cheap, quick and confidential. Oh and it has the backing of JayZ, the hip hop mogul who is one of BlackBerry's biggest fans.

Ofcom's annual report found 37 per cent of UK teenagers said that BlackBerry was their primary means of communication - a big turnaround for a technology seen recently as the most corporate of handsets and services.

Why the sneaker-wearing arsonists needed BBM, Twitter or anything else to co-ordinate the attacks is anyone's guess, as the police helicopters hovering over Brixton for hours on Sunday night were a tell-tale sign that trouble had spread from north of the river. ®