British Police, Government, Social Networks Discuss Crime Prevention

Posted August 25th, 2011 at 3:00 pm (UTC-5)
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British government officials and police have met with social media executives to discuss how social networking services can contribute to crime prevention.

The meeting Thursday follows riots in London earlier this month and a suggestion by Prime Minister David Cameron that social networks might be shut down during times of civil strife, in order to cut off communications among those planning violence.

Last week, a British court sentenced two men to four years in prison for failed attempts to use the social networking website Facebook to start riots.

But social networking companies and rights groups have protested that social media also helped emergency workers coordinate their responses to the violence, and kept non-rioters connected to friends and family during the violence.

After the meeting, a spokeswoman for Britain's Home Office said the meeting between Home Secretary Theresa May, police officials and the heads of Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry manufacturer Research in Motion was “constructive.” The spokeswoman said the participants discussed how law enforcement and social networks can cooperate to prevent the websites from being used for criminal behavior.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak attempted to cut Internet access during protests in Egypt earlier this year, drawing widespread criticism.