In U.K.: Talk Of Banning Masks, Blocking Text Messages

Aug 11, 2011
Originally published on August 11, 2011 8:11 am

The wave of violence that swept across cities in Britain over the past week has led to Prime Minister David Cameron saying that:

-- Authorities may block instant messaging services "when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."

-- The police have been given the power to order protesters to remove facemasks "under any circumstances where there is reasonable suspicion that they are related to criminal activity."

(We're citing The Guardian, which has much more about what Cameron told Parliament today posted here.)

Journalism professor/blogger Jeff Jarvis doesn't like what he's hearing:

-- "Censorship is no path to civility."

-- "I hear an MP in essence asking for social media to be regulated. Danger, friends, danger."

-- "So they're trying to ban anonymity in public."

But David Lammy, who represents London's Tottenham neighborhood (where the troubles began) in Parliament argues that BlackBerry's mobile messaging service in particular needs to be suspended because it has allowed "unsophisticated criminals" to outmaneuver police.

And police say they need the power to make protesters remove their masks in order to help identify those who turn violent.

We wonder:

As The Associated Press reports, "police [have] continued to make arrests linked to the disturbances, with the number of arrests in London alone climbing to 820. Courts were staffing around the clock to process alleged looters, vandals and thieves — including one as young as 11."

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