Editor : Martin Simamora, S.IP |Martin Simamora Press

Senin, 29 Agustus 2011

Post-riot, UK government halts talk of social media shutdown

A police officer in riot gear stands near a burning car in Hackney on August 8, 2011 in London, England. Pockets of rioting and looting continues to take place in various boroughs of London this evening, as well as in Birmingham, prompted by the initial rioting in Tottenham and then in Brixton on Sunday night. It has been announced that the Prime Minister David Cameron and his family are due to return home from their summer holiday in Tuscany, Italy to respond to the rioting. Disturbances broke out late on Saturday night in Tottenham and the surrounding area after the killing of Mark Duggan, 29 and a father-of-four, by armed police in an attempted arrest on August 4.[Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]
The U.K. government met on Thursday with technology companies for a post-mortem on the violent riots earlier this month, but made clear from the onset that it was no longer considering shutting down services in times of crisis.

Home Secretary Theresa May met with representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Research In Motion, three companies whose services were used by participants in the violent rioting across several U.K. cities.
After the riots, Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.K. would look at "whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence." The suggestion that the U.K. could censor social networking services brought wide criticism.

The Home Office said in a statement that the discussions revolved around improving the "technological and related legal capabilities of the police" when dealing with services that are being used for criminal behavior. The Home Office did not mention if it discussed shutting down services with the companies.
Youths loot a Carhartt store in Hackney
on August 8, 2011 in London,
England. Pockets of rioting and
looting continues to take place in
various parts of London this evening
prompted by the initial rioting
in Tottenham and then in Brixton on
Sunday night. Disturbances broke out
late on Saturday night in Tottenham
and the surrounding area after
the killing of Mark Duggan, 29
and a father-of-four,
by armed police in an attempted
arrest on August 4.
[Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]

But a statement from Facebook said that from the start of the meeting May "set the tone clearly that we were not there to discuss restricting Internet services."

"We welcome the fact that this was a dialogue about working together to keep people safe rather than about imposing new restrictions on Internet services," the statement read.

Facebook did acknowledge that "sometimes we have to be more vigilant or react faster when there are exceptional circumstances," such as the recent shootings in Norway or the riots in the U.K.

"When we are dealing with situations that are heightened or sensitive such as the U.K. riots, then content relating to this specific issue is prioritized," Facebook said. "As a result, the team works around the clock to ensure that take-down times for such content is decreased and content that straddles the line of acceptability is closely monitored."

Facebook said that it processes reports about content that is against its rules to its User Operations teams, which work 24 hours a day around the world. The company has a law enforcement team dedicated to helping U.K. police improve their skills in using the service to handle serious crime.

On Aug. 16, a British court sentenced two men to four years each in prison for using Facebook to try to organize two riots, one of the sternest punishments meted out so far for misbehavior and one that has been criticized as being too harsh. Neither riot actually took place.

Facebook said in its statement that the service was also used for positive actions, such as organizing groups to clean up debris from the streets following the disturbances.

RIM, whose BlackBerry devices are popular with U.K. youth, called the discussions "positive and productive." Young people are thought to buy BlackBerry devices for Messenger, an instant messaging application that allows people to broadcast messages to many users. It has been blamed for enabling youths to quickly mass in key neighborhoods in London and other U.K. cities hit with looting and arson.

Twitter was more oblique and did not mention Thursday's meeting with the government. "We've heard from many that Twitter is an effective way to distribute crucial updates and dispel rumors in times of crisis or emergency," the company said.

networkworld.com

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