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Simon Leufstedt

David Cameron wants to ban social networking sites amid riots

The British prime minister David Cameron says he wants to ban social networking sites amid riots. This is what he said:

"[...] when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality. I have also asked the police if they need any other new powers. Police were facing a new circumstance where rioters were using the BlackBerry Messenger service, a closed network, to organise riots. We've got to examine that and work out how to get ahead of them."

I hope it's not just me who thinks that this is so much more scarier than the actual riots?

What kind of disorder does he want to stop? Couldn't the government and the police just as easily use these extra new powers to stop environmental protests, social justice and democratization protests (like the ones in the Middle-east) and other protests directed at the government and the class system? The UK government and the country's police force is already targeting climate activists and labeling environmentalists as extremists.

And Cameron seem to have support from other right-wingers. Louise Mensch, a Conservative MP, supports Cameron's ideas to limit internet-freedom. She said:

"Common sense. If riot info and fear is spreading by Facebook & Twitter, shut them off for an hour or two, then restore. World won't implode," she said. "I don't have a problem with a brief temporary shutdown of social media just as I don't have a problem with a brief road or rail closure. If short, necessary and only used in an emergency, so what. We'd all survive if Twitter shut down for a short while during major riots."

Excuse me, but a road closure is not the same thing as closing down social networking sites. A road closure doesn't stop people from communicating. But if you stop social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook you also stop the possibility for people to spread news and voice their opinions.

I am sure countries like China, Iran and Syria applauds Cameron's "wisdom" when it comes to limiting his people's ability to communicate and network against the government...

Also this:

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If people still have internet access, there are plenty of ways around the banning of social network sites. I do think it's crazy to do that, but if people keep attacking our internet freedom there will just have to be more and more creative ways to communicate.

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The fact that I suddenly find myself aligned with a group certain conservative members of government are all but calling terrorist, this kind of talk makes me very nervous. They would like very much to shut up the #occupy protests, and this would go a long way in doing it. It's true as long as you have internet you can get around it. They are not as easy to access and use by so many people at once. The internet is an amazing thing, and it's not something I think anyone in an authoritative position would have ever knowingly allowed to happen. It frees ideas, and puts people in contact with one another far better than anything else has to date. It's no wonder the power hungry in government would love to restrict it's use.

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This is a very scary issue, as the global use of the Internet could actually bring a terrorist to someone's back yard two or three thousand miles away. I hope there is a way to deal with these terrorist's rings without shutting down some of my favorite networks completely. I know it could be tough to band the terrorist members though because they could always just sign up for a new username. I don't know what to think exactly, but if I were to see a threat message on my Twitter, FB, or other account I would delete and block that person faster than you can click on the "report abuse" button.

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I think it was almost impossible to totally shutdown all social media and all means of communication during such riots or any activities they would want to do it. Some people who have riot plans or even those terrorist could really use the internet to communicate but internet was also used by a lot of other people who would want to check their loved ones that might be living near places where riots are. And also to let others know what is real happening that could also give warnings for others to avoid going on such places for a moment.

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