Censoring social media during riots: good news, mostly

Talking to Liberal Democrats in Whitehall about Cameron’s misguided talk of social media bans during riots, the reactions range from the bluntly oppositional to the intriguing repeated suggestion that Cameron himself misspoke and didn’t really mean to suggest anything more than looking at how the police can best use existing laws.

So far, so good.

The one caveat to watch out for is that in other areas Conservative ministers such as Ed Vaizey have shown a strong liking for self-regulation by industry. Applied to social media and riots, this could see attempts to encourage the industry to agree sweeping procedures with the police that require no votes in Parliaments. Unlike the hotly contested area of online piracy, website blocking and traffic throttling – where some in the industry are keen to strike such deals – there is far less enthusiasm for such an approach amongst social networking firms themselves. Even so, it’s one to watch.

And whilst watching … here is a petition you can sign.

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  • As a liberal I’m fundamentally opposed to governments sticking there noses into private conversation between individuals over the phone, online or over the garden fence. It may be a useful tool in crime prevention, but it is also a gross invasion of privacy. In cases where no crime has been committed it has, in the past. led to the persecution and failed prosecution of people who’s only crime is to say stupid things to each other in private conversations.
    It is also increasingly obvious that these riots were not well organised criminal acts and that the role off the social media mostly amounted to people saying injudicious things. For every looter that contacted another looter there will be literally thousands of conversations involving one over excited person contacting another.. Ultimately you can only prosecute people who have actually done something wrong, otherwise you get into the dangerous area of pre-crime knee-jerk over-reaction and spying..

  • I agree with the previous to posters although i am not sure if you can really say that outside of direct messaging Twiter is a private conversation. After all you want your followers to read your tweets so it is more like exhibitionist conversation.

  • Jedibeeftrix
    You’re right. but I used the the lower case L because I wasn’t being party loyal. There are liberal Tory andLlabour supporters. And party members for that matter.
    I never thought of that. But you’re right and it does have a baring on a very recent conviction that makes me very uncomfortable.

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