Last month we told you about the London riots that spread across the UK, and was organized by some using the likes of the BlackBerry Messenger service and Twitter. We then told you the British prime minister said they may disrupt such services if something similar happened again. Now today we can tell that RIM would close the UK BBM service if government asked it too.
The instant message provider has said it would shut down its service in the country if it was requested too during times of trouble. Reuters are reporting that RIMs executive Stephen Bates said the company would gladly comply with orders given in times of terrorism threats or mass unrest.
Bates said “From our perspective we comply with the law and if the instruction would be to close down the mobile networks, we would then comply”. It was widely reported at the time that such services were used by the trouble makers to organize and incite the violence.
It looks like the majority of rioters preferred BBM over the likes of Twitter because it is more private and messages are encrypted. Since the government first said it may disrupt such services in the future, it has since backed down and said it wouldn’t go that far. The home secretary, Theresa may, has been meeting with Police and representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and RIM.
Any such move to restrict such services were quickly condemned and likened to the actions of more repressive countries. Bates added that social media was a good thing and didn’t think suspending these was “a good way forward”.
Meanwhile Alexander Macgillivray from Twitter said the police even used its service for good during periods of crisis, and Facebook’s Richard Allan said social media allowed users to know families and friends were safe. RIM has not said whether it would hand over any chat logs or user details to police during the troubles.