Monday, September 19, 2011

Government drops plans to shut down social media

Message from the Lords is: “The government is committed to a free and open internet.”

Baroness Browning confirmed that the plan to seek additional powers in order to close down social media networks would not be going ahead.

In the wake of the riots, David Cameron proposed shutting down social media when it was evident that some users were citing disorder. Theresa May had also called for such a plan to be considered which, led to a meeting with police commanders and representatives of social media.

Cameron had discussed with MPs, “whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these web sites and services when we know they are plotting violence".

During the Lords debate it became clear that a middle ground had to be reached. Baroness Miller, of the Liberal Democrats, stressed the unacceptability of a wholesale surveillance operation, whilst Labour minister, Lord West, called it ‘madness’ for the police not to use information from social media to protect the public.

Social media sites do have to take some control - and, according to Browning, many have indicated a commitment to removing illegal content where appropriate.

Browning confirms that Cameron does not want to close down networks – a move that would upset a great many – but he is determined to see what can be done to prevent such a social media hijack again.

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