As predicted, British PM David Cameron is now flagging the possibility of controlling social media access to those the authorities perceive as responsible for inciting and participating in anti-social behaviour such as rioting and looting.
Just how this would work in practice is not yet clear, if indeed it is possible at all. The police confiscate the social media tools of anybody found wearing a hoodie? Males of particular ethnic appearance between the ages of x and x are obliged to relinquish their phones in times of unrest? Females with black nail polish and piercings likewise?
Who will judge that the usual suspects are in the throes of planning a campaign of violent civil disobedience? What criteria will they use? Will Britain become one of those authoritarian regimes that shuts down the Internet when there’s trouble?
The idea is ludicrous. It’s another of those impotent threats trotted out by politicians who have no control over events, and are desperately casting about to find some punishment that will dissuade the mob from ever doing it again.
The threat of taking away their toys if they don’t behave is likely to incite further explosive protest. This is a cohort that already believes it’s over surveilled and singled out for police persecution.
Has anybody thought to threaten the Murdoch empire with the restriction or removal of their phones if they don’t stop hacking? Didn’t think so.
- Rioting leads to Cameron call for social media clampdown (guardian.co.uk)
- The UK Is Considering Shutting Down Twitter, Social Media After Huge Riots (businessinsider.com)