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back to article David Cameron turns water cannons on social networks

David Cameron picked on social networks in Parliament this morning, when he told MPs – who were forced to cut short their holidays following four nights of looting, arson and violence in England – that he was considering such tech being barred when used by baddies. "Mr Speaker, everyone watching these horrific actions will be …

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Seeing as it's always the technology that causes the problems ...

... perhaps we should ban it all.

Now then, without technological advances, can someone help explain how I'm going to get home from work tonight?

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@Geoff

How about the Internet? Personally whilst it has benefits, I'm not 100% convinced that these aren't more than outweighed by the drawbacks.

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History will show us the way.

Dear Mr Cameron

All we need to do is go back in history to a time before rioting existed and impose the technology that existed then. That's the logical extension of what you are saying isn't it?

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Alert

reading more carefully

it sounds as though he's suggesting measures similar to banning known hooligans from football matches, could well be workable *providing it's handled properly*

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Anonymous Coward

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad....

Re-read this article changing David Cameron to the leader of Iran in the protests there a few months back and it works just as well.

It is very interesting that while 'defending' the freedom's provided by social networks in the north african and middle eastern troubles there is no correlation drawn by our esteemed leaders regarding it's use here in these troubles ....

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ok...

I didn't realise that nicking TV's and trainers was all about freedom.....

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It isn't

But the wish to be able to censor communications is worrying, however seemingly good the CURRENT reason

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Megaphone

Exactly!

Who knows what future governments could do with this kind of power freely available to them.

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Anonymous Coward

It doesn't need to be FREELY available

Just an emergency power needing authorization by parliament to be renewed.

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FAIL

Yes, just like Iran

I well remember the front page photo of the female looter shot through the head by Cameron's Revolutionary Guard.

Cretin

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Trollface

Ahh, its an easy mistake to make

There, we're looking at brave freedom fighters are revolutionaries and democratic activists casting off the shackles of an oppressive regime. Whereas here we've just got a bunch of thieving chavs.

Its just fine to oppress that section of the populace via any means possible. Only when you see a thieving chav wielding an RPG7 will they have made the transition to freedom fighter, and DC will cease to be justified in blocking twitter.

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Re: It doesn't need to be FREELY available

"Just an emergency power needing authorization by parliament to be renewed."

Because there's just no scope of abuse there is there?

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Devil

So, remind me here...

So how many times did the US Congress renew the "emergency" Patriot act?

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Emergency Powers ?

Define Emergency.

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Big Brother

1984...

... and perpetual war, Big Brother

=

War on terror / war on drugs / war on communism / war on criminality etc etc etc. Permanent wars that by definition can never be won, and that are used as an excuse to extract ever more civil liberties and concessions by an increasingly oppressive government.

Incidentally, mentioning "War on drugs", I couldn't help but note that none of those chavs would be out looting if they were quietly smoking a joint at home.

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Stop

I see where you're coming from...

But comparing the events here with anti-government rioting overseas is poor nalaogy-making at best. Those people were united in (mostly) peaceful protest, thier governments then proceeding to try and silence and intimidate them.

While the ritoitng could be attributed to the travesty of a job all parties have done of running this country and therefore be described as anti-government protest it was also a spate of blatant organised raids and as such you've got to at least consider these courses of mitigating action.

Now the analysis has begun we need to watch closely, the article could be twisted to make a great case for the IMP for example, not just loosening up RIPA again.

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Megaphone

So instead....

We let them run riot and take no action, then blame the police for their inaction, then bitch about a lack of powers with which to discipline the yoof, then prevent government from enacting powers to let us discipline them.

Before you so quickly berate the suggestions being proposed how about you start suggesting alternatives?

I'm in no way advocating these powers become widely available and there is scope for abuse of any power given to a government official, that's par for the course and in ofitself one of the reasons there's been riots to start with.

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"Because there's just no scope of abuse there is there?"

It's only like ANY other legislation

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Missed the point

with the idea of turning off the social media, My point is that you can't compare the two in as simple terms as this.

There were no freedom fighters at these riots. They would have stolen off each other if they could, I'm sure that probably did happen.

To try and compare people fighting for their lives for freedom, and those destroying the town they live in because they want to steal a new shiny toy shows you up as an idiot.

Of course this is only my opinion, and you are entitled to yours, because we live in a free socienty, unlike those freedom fighters.

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re: Emergency Powers?

Define Patriot.

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Holmes

there may be some misjudgment

As the PM is very persuasive, his statement that 'it was all looting' to paraphrase, may be an over-simplification;

it looked more as though people were in the streets for a variety of reasons including the main one of disaffection, then the looting happened as an opportunist reaction to the police standing around;

while clearly there was some organized looting, the initial 'organized' nature of it is hardly different to hardcore troublemakers causing confrontations at peaceful demonstrations

so banning facemasks, banning known troublemakers from organizing via social media during protests, may be workable legally although dubious technically, providing there is the proper level of supervision;

However we should be alert to the mischaracterization of the majority of the looters, as their original primary purpose was in most cases very different.

Even facemasks there is the potential of it restricting peaceful anonymous protest, I myself would say that without more jury trials generally, there's no guarantee that peaceful serial activists won't be the subject of harassment

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Anonymous Coward

"Define Emergency."

How about: They look like they might vote for the opposoition in the next election.

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Those saying this could not be abused.

Have people forgotten how much legislation for use against terrorists was abused. How short are peoples memories. Have people not learnt that they should not support these knee jerk power grabs off the back of a rare event, as you will only suffer for it later. Let's at least see if this even was a one off or not before bring out the banhammers. The gov / police have a track record, so it is not paranoid to raise concerns.

And no this was obviously not the same as the protests in Iran, but the question is should a government be given the power to decide what is classed as 'good' and 'bad' communication. As the original poster put it the arguments used by our gov seem very similar if not the same to those used by other less scrupulous govs

Just love how social networks have gone from lauded 'saviour of democracy' status, to root of all evil in just a few months. And the same MP's saying how brilliant it was then, heaping condemnation on it now, without a hint of irony....

The real problem was not the social media, or people wearing masks. But that there were not enough police around. It is very nice if you have the power to ask people to remove their masks, if there no police around to do the asking....

And only morons would think that when cutting loads of social programs and being in an economy having lots of problems that the crime rate won't go up, so lets cut police numbers. I though it would be obvious that if you were going to do lots cuts that would increase unemployment, that you might actually need quite a few bobby's around to deal with the fallout, but that's just me.

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All "rioters" are criminal by definition ...

... and any government will make use of that for its own purposes. During the initial civil unrest - as a result, if you remember, of the police shooting a man outdoors in broad daylight - I was appalled to hear phrases straight out of the politbureau handbook: "These people are just criminals", "... Heart ripped out of the community", " ... only a small minority", and so on. BBC radio news even found some woman to refer to them as "like rats". Never any suggestion that there was a justification for the people there to be pissed off.

Since then, I have been dismayed that there has been no clear reason for protest for people to rally behind, I am sufficiently aware that there is a huge number of people feeling so disenfranchised that this was only a matter of time, and I'm not feeling particularly sanguine that the Olympic London will be a great place to be next year.

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Re: So instead....

"Before you so quickly berate the suggestions being proposed how about you start suggesting alternatives?"

How about using their already quite wide-ranging powers to deal with riots? They don't need to be able to shut down communication networks to charge people in riot gear.

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Wrong country

A confusion in the minds of all too many I'm afraid, including the looters in this case.

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Meh

Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels

As someone with a batter turn of phrase than me said.

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Better in the dark?

1. What has "broad daylight" goto to do with it?

2. I rather think some facts would be good to know before condemning either side

3. One agreed fact is that the dead man was reputed to be involved in violent gangs and drugs and another is that he had a gun in the car, that, though perhaps usual in some countries, is considered a serious offence in the normal course of things in England, as is mere possession without the proper rigmarole being followed and passsed.

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Anonymous Coward

On defining "good" and "bad" communications

"but the question is should a government be given the power to decide what is classed as 'good' and 'bad' communication."

They (arguably) already do. From section 128 of the Communications act (presumably Social Media falls under this category?):

"A person misuses an electronic communications network or an electronic communications service, under subsection (5), if the effect or likely effect of its use causes another person unnecessarily to suffer annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety or if he uses a network or service to engage in conduct the effect or likely effect of which causes another person unnecessarily to suffer annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety."

I think that "Let's go and nick some stuff and set fire to things" constitutes "causing another person unnecessarily to suffer annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety" and we would also argue constitutes "bad".

If the messages over the network were actually of the order "Let's go and protest at the state of our nation" then that doesn't (necessarily) constitute "causing another person unnecessarily to suffer annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety" and nor would most of us argue that it would constitute "bad".

I'm willing to bet that the messages being debated were more the former than the latter, and this is what people are (quite rightly) upset about

The rest of the section talks about time scales in the order of days and months for various parts of the process (appeals etc. ) so as far as I can see, not being a lawyer, itself is not much use as an existing piece of legislation to limit the impact that social media undoubtedly had on the speed of escalation at the time.

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Pirate

@So instead...

How about leaving the networks open, then _recording_ who said what, and who listened, and then using it as evidence to arrest and prosecute the genuine troublemakers?

By banning them, you will only force people to use other means, like direct phone calls etc., and if you extend things to shut down the phone networks, then how are people supposed to call the police/ambulance/fire service?

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@James Micallef - Well said

Exactly what I was thinking yesterday having just finished reading it for the umpteenth time and you're perfectly right! There always has to be a bogeyman to rally the people in Victory Square, we always seem to have to have a Goldstein being put up for the Sun readers to get into fits of rage over!

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Big Brother

"Cameron didn't single out any specific social networks."

He's just specifically named BBM and Twitter.

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Choppers?

To be fair, the news channels did a frankly shite job of reporting the news.

I was watching News 24 on Monday night and they had their chopper hover over the places that were on fire - where the rioting had been and was no more. I was getting better info from friends who live in London than the news was letting out.

Every time they interviewed a reporter it was by phone and the chopper was never overhead to show us what the ground situation was like.

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Anonymous Coward

Cobblers

I watched the local evening news and the reporters were on the street in the middle of a riot virtually wetting themselves in excitement. They still had buggerall to say other than they fully expected a small crowd currently outside cash converters to swell to a large baying mob that might have a go at trashing the place, and then there is JJb next door which the rioters love. Sure enough - worst nights rioting, JJB trashed.

Next night, same place, interviewing the victims and crocodile tears about how could this ever happen inthe UK.

They are not the cause but they stir it up through rather too specific speculation then feign horror when having given away the locations in precise detail of where something might go down, thus enabling it. More of a worry for me than BBM or facetwit.

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Big Brother

Just read this

"Sky News understands David Cameron has been in talks with Chinese government to share web-filtering technologies. "

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Childcatcher

That'll fix the problem, no more looting after that

Perhaps he should be in talks with the Finnish government to share education methods.

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Joke

Re : Dan 55

"Perhaps he should be in talks with the Finnish government to share education methods."

WHAT!!! You mean we should start trying to educate these people!!!!

Go and have a lie down Sir, you're obviously delusional.

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Wait a minute

If we haven't been trying to educate these people, what have the educators been spending all that money on? Oh, right, the administrators.

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Facepalm

Fantastic idea

Why not shut down the whole mobile phone network? They use that to communicate about riots too.

But then they'd use landlines - so best shut them down.

But then they'd use carrier pigeons.. I think it's best to cull the lot - just to be on the safe side.

But then they'd use smoke signals. Nothing for it but to embark on an extensive deforestation programme and.. er.. burn down all the trees.

*slow handclap for the shaven ballbag that is Call Me Dave - Telephone Sanitiser extraordinaire*

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Trollface

Black Hole

Smoke signals won't be much use at night though. They would use torches or lasers...so prob best that we plunge our Earth into the nearest black hole to prevent this.

Can we get the big Hadron collider shrunk into a mobile device to magic up some black holes in hot-spots?

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Not that I like the idea of shutting any of them down,

but the reality is, post to a web page and you notify dozens, hundreds, thousands, or millions. Make a phone call from a mobile and you communicate with one. Yes you can setup phone trees, but that takes pre-planning, shows malice, and requires a leader against whom leverage can be applied. So there is some logic in what he is proposing.

A better idea would be to use social media to mobilize the population for self-defense and real community self-policing. The problem there is, you Brits are about 20 years ahead of us 'Merkins on the march of Progressive Fascism to the soft totalitarian communist state, so that concept is anathema to anyone in government. Although I will give the citizenry fair marks for the other night: actually engaging in just that sort of self-policing seems to have broken the cycle. A bit late so I can't grant good marks, but better late than never and if you build on it, you just might start taking the first steps away from economic stagnation, possibly even leading Europe to recovery.

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I want to make one amendment.

Lets start with the sodding pigeons, kill all the flying rats.

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"But then they'd use smoke signals"

I think they already are

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Anonymous Coward

hmm

"A better idea would be to use social media to mobilize the population for self-defense and real community self-policing"

I think we might have done that already, what with having an (a) Army and (b) a police force.

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rioters use cars , bikes , trains and buses and their feet

to get around, so they should also be banned too.

They also breathe. If we banned them from doing that, they'd be dead in a minute or so.. Now there's a cunning plan.

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WTF?

Hmmmm

So if Mr Cameron doesn't like what you say, he's going to bar you from saying it?

Yikes.

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Anonymous Coward

This already in place

Try inciting race hatred and you'll on the wrong side of UK law

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Anonymous Coward

not really

You are punished after you've done it. Not prevented from saying it in the first place.

The first is dependent on you being a racist half-wit. The second comes with a presumption of guilt.

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RE: Hmmmm

Try taking the chip off your shoulder before tryping (sic). There is a big difference between stopping someone using social media to vent or organise a legal protest and stopping someone using it to orchestrate a crime. Get a clue.

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