The police managed to stop the Olympic stadium (and other key hotspots, for potential riots) from being damaged through online and phone monitoring. They used the information found on phones and online to organise police presence at these potentially targeted places. The police are now looking into the possibility of shutting down these mediums in any similar events.
This comes amidst talks by the Government and in particular Theresa May, who have all suggested that social media and Blackberry’s may be banned in their use during times of crisis.
Mr Cameron has said whilst at the emergency Parliament meeting last Thursday:
Mr Speaker, everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the Police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.
Assistant Met Police Commissioner – Ms Lynne Owens spoke of officers sifting through an “overwhelming” amount of “chitter chatter” on social networks during last week’s riots in London, she went on to say: “Through Twitter and BBM there was intelligence that the Olympic site, that both Westfields [shopping centres] and Oxford Street were indeed going to be targeted,” she told the home affairs select committee. Ms Owens also said: “We were able to secure all those places and indeed there was no damage at any of them.”
RiM – Research in Motion the company that produces Blackberry’s have said they will co-operate with the police and by law the police are able to serve Rim with an order to reveal information. Under the same law, Rim are barred from disclosing whether they’ve done so or not.
This is underThe Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) provides that the interception of communications is unlawful in most cases. However, the Act states that law enforcement agencies, including the police and MI5, can force telecoms companies to hand over customers’ details in order to tap phone, internet or email communications to protect the UK’s national security interests, prevent and detect terrorism and serious crime or to safeguard the UK’s economic well-being.
The communications industry is still striving to further the world of communications – as Apple are set to launch a messenger service on their i-phones and facebook are to make available a messenger with Android phones. The government will be taking this into consideration too.
The Association of British Insurers has estimated the cost from the riots and looting at 200 million pounds ($326 million) this total is expected to rise.