British PM proposes blocking social media sites to stop riots

15 Aug 2011

News that the British Government may shut down social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to prevent further riots and looting has not gone over well with freedom of speech of groups.

In a statement to Parliament, British Prime Minister David Cameron linked the use of social media with the organisation of riots across England last week.

Cameron said the government and police were working together to decide if it would be right to stop people communicating on social networks if “we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality”.

Freedom of speech groups are against the move altogether.

Such hasty actions risk creating “unbalanced laws and abuses of our rights”, said Jim Killock, executive director of the online organisation Open Rights Group.

“David Cameron must be careful not to attack these fundamental needs because of concerns about the actions of a small minority,” Computeractive reported Killock as saying.

Freedom of the press advocate Reporters Without Borders said any move to suspend social-networking services could have “grave consequences” and that threats to freedom “are now real”.

“We urge the British authorities to rule out any possibility of shutting down or drastically restricting the use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.”