Prime Minister David Cameron announced that social media could “be used for good or ill” and therefore would “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”.
We know this is a knee-jerk reaction. If it involved suspension of services, it would be unworkable, and would hit people trying to stop disorder or protect themselves. Targeting individuals would need to be supervised by the courts: but the UK usually leaves decisions like this to the Police, rather than courts, as in RIPA.
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The Government is focusing on entirely the wrong problem in trying to increase their powers to ban, block or monitor people's communications. Social networks like Twitter are used for a huge array of positive purposes such as warnings of danger and organising clean up projects. Blanket surveillance measures of private communications or increased powers to mine users data would undermine people's freedom to communicate in very damaging ways, and would in no way address the problems at hand. Making laws in haste, with limited analysis and information, to deal with an exceptional problem is likely to create unbalanced laws and abuses of our rights.