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Technology Blamed For Helping UK Rioters 682

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-post-angry dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The WSJ reports that following three nights of rioting and looting in London, Blackberry's messaging network and social networking sites are being blamed by police, politicians and media organizations for helping rioters in London spread word about the next hot spot . It's an 'encrypted, very secure, safe, fast, cheap, free, easy way for disaffected urban youth to spread messages for the next targets,' says Mike Butcher, editor of TechCrunch Europe and digital advisor to the Mayor of London. But Ian Maude, an analyst at Enders Analysis, said it's unfair to lay the blame on technology. 'Certainly, it's a lot easier for people to communicate with each other in real time via some of these services but that's a fact of life. They're not good or evil in themselves, its the purposes for which people use them.' The Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard, say they are monitoring social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM), the maker of Blackberry smartphones, says it has 'engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.'" An anonymous reader points out that the rioters aren't the only ones using technology. London police have begun posting pictures on Flikr of people they'd like to interview following the riots over the last few days.
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Technology Blamed For Helping UK Rioters

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  • by rsborg (111459) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:04AM (#37032874) Homepage

    With a weakened social safety net, rampant unemployment, eastern-european migrants taking over the few remaining jobs and the super-rich from abroad (mostly the middle east) causing housing prices to skyrocket...

    It also has nothing to do with the looting of the public done by the banksters and their enablers, the politicians.

    Finally, the Met police are trusted and can't be blamed for the vandals and looter's complete despise for the actions of the law enforcement... it's not the fault of the police that they are unaccountable.

  • by datapharmer (1099455) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:15AM (#37032994) Homepage
    Yep, I think the real problem here is that the rioting started as a response to (real or perceived) police violence, and the reaction was "add more police" and the situation got worse. Rinse, repeat. This isn't a problem of technology, this is the equivalent to trying to put out a fire at an oil refinery by adding more gas.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:22AM (#37033094)

    All I know is that it's good when kids use it to fight the power in countries whose governments we don't like. But it's bad when kids use it to fight the power in countries whose governments we do like. And it's downright fucking criminal if any thug punks *dare* to do it in *OUR* country!!!

    Kind of reminds me of the old Reagan days--when labor unions were awful in the U.S., but wonderful in Poland.

  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@@@ovi...com> on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:22AM (#37033096) Homepage

    We are having these problems in Illinois and Wisconsin as well. Illinois has no concealed carry law, and Wisconsin's doesnt take effect until Nov 1.

    We are not seeing destructive flash mobs in Houston. It's won't happen there because both the organizers and participants know that lots of Texans walk around armed all the time. So, the concealed carry law it's self PREVENTS violence because these hooligans don't want to try something that will lead to them being shot dead.

    So, the UK can watch and spy, and listen all they want and it will have no effect on what is happening.

  • by Piata (927858) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:36AM (#37033276)

    You don't riot for 3 days unless there's fuel for that spark to burn. Saying it's those damn young'ns is disingenuous.

    Not long ago they were rioting over changes to education. What's the difference between people that just want to "smash shit up" and people being tired of their government, the rich getting richer and the lack of accountability of civil servants (including police)?

  • by alexborges (313924) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:42AM (#37033332)

    Citation needed please: where does it say he was a violent drug dealer?

    Y mean, if Assange is a rapist for fucking a woman that wanted to be fucked then hell, I'm a drug dealer for having a whiff in high school 20 years ago

  • by data2 (1382587) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:47AM (#37033386)

    When a young man was asked by a reporter, if he thought rioting was the correct way to express disconsent, he answered with

    "Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"
    The TV reporter from Britain's ITV had no response. So the young man pressed his advantage. "Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

    http://worldblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/08/07/7292281-the-sad-truth-behind-london-riot [msn.com]

  • by inhuman_4 (1294516) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:48AM (#37033404)

    A few months ago the western world wailed loudly when some arab countries terminated internet and mobile phone connections because it was thought to be assisting their local rioters.

    No the western world wailed because they were shutting down networks to suppress freedom of speech. Much of the Arab spring started out as peaceful protests demanding democratic reform. The governments responded with massive censorship which included shutting down social networks. Most of this censorship was in place well before the violence started.

    What is happening in London has nothing to do with free speech or political/social reform. It's just mass vandalism.

    It's the difference between shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater and suppressing criticism of the government. Both are preventing people from saying things, but only one is a freedom of expression issue.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:53AM (#37033480) Homepage Journal

    "IF these gangs of hoodlums were all packing .45s, then hundreds of innocent people would likely be dead."

    Evidence suggest not.

    Who cares if CCTV works? The fact is it is a violation on basic freedoms. Treat your populations like they are all criminals, and eventually you moved from the police being a member of the society helping itself, to the police becoming outside of society and creating an US v Them attitude. History is filled withe examples.

    I am curious: are the CCTV recording available to everyone?

    And no , I don't think the riots ar a result of direct control from the government; however the government has clearly created a situation where a number of youths feel disenfranchised. There are only 2 things that happens when you hve a large enough sect of disenfranchises youths. You send them to war, or the government changes.

    And yes, the libertarian drivel spouted on /. is quite annoying.

  • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:16PM (#37033796) Homepage

    We are having these problems in Illinois and Wisconsin as well. Illinois has no concealed carry law, and Wisconsin's doesnt take effect until Nov 1.

    We are not seeing destructive flash mobs in Houston. It's won't happen there because both the organizers and participants know that lots of Texans walk around armed all the time. So, the concealed carry law it's self PREVENTS violence because these hooligans don't want to try something that will lead to them being shot dead.

    So, the UK can watch and spy, and listen all they want and it will have no effect on what is happening.

    As an American, I am sickened and appalled by this post. That's all I have to say. We are not ALL gun carrying lunatics.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:21PM (#37033846)

    Citation needed please: where does it say he was a violent drug dealer?

    This portrait suggests he was [guardian.co.uk] affiliated with a gang suspected of murdering 3 people, was suspected by police of dealing drugs and guns and was a person of sufficient interest that an anti-firearms team decided to stop him. At which point he pulls a gun and gets shot for his troubles. Does that mean he's a violent drug dealer? That strongly suggests he was to me.

  • Re:I call bullshit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xest (935314) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:25PM (#37033886)

    Well I wouldn't worry, the headline is sensationalist. Whilst many places have said technology was involved most media outlets have been quite measured in talking about it. The BBC ran an article today basically absolving it of blame saying that the likes of The Daily Mail misquoted Twitter users (quite gross misquotes too- blatant, horrendous level of misquoting).

    The point has been made by most measured outlets that technology has actually better facilitated voluntary cleanup operations than the riots themselves. It's only the verging on far right wing fringe - the fringe that inherently must be irrational to have the hypocritical viewpoints it does - that support the "technology is bad" idea like The Daily Mail etc.

    I don't think there's much popular support for blaming technology nowadays- a recent report said over 33% of adults have smart phones now in the UK, which inevitably means some of those are the older generation. I think even the older "get off my lawn" generation are beginning to realise the benefits of new technology to some extent, so the argument isn't even really popular amongst large swathes of even The Daily Mail's ignorant readerbase now

    It's like when music was blamed for violence/drug use, then movies for violence, I think we're finally reaching the point where people are beginning to realise that, well, that ideology is fucking stupid when applied to technology in general too and the only thing to blame for violence, is people.

    I'd argue the technology is to blame for x mentality is a lost battle already. I just wish it'd breathe it's last dying breath that little bit quicker, but it's almost there.

  • by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:57PM (#37034292)
    I'm not sure what difference it would make, you'd be unlikely to go the way of the US. We kill each other more for a variety of social, racial and cultural reasons. The guns aren't really to blame, we have a higher non gun murder rate higher then meany European countries total murder rate. You could also just as easily point out the Swiss and Israel which have a plethora of fully automatic weapons and have a very low murder rate in order to make the opposite argument.
  • by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @01:05PM (#37034406)
    I don't think most of the people who are actually rioting are pissed at their government, they've probably paid pretty little attention to what the government has been doing in general. They're pissed at their society, because they're jobless and have no future prospects. That has very little to do with what the government has or hasn't done recently and a lot more to do with persistent problems that technology has brought about but society hasn't been very effective in dealing with.

    At least that's certainly the impression that the writer of this article [msn.com] gives.
  • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @01:27PM (#37034702) Journal
    Oh, I'm sorry... maybe I should have clarified that I was talking about the popular media representation of a central "CCTV network". There isn't one, stop believing everything you read.
  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @05:36PM (#37037630)

    Um, the left have spent decades pushing policies which created a feral underclass who believe that they can go out and smash stuff up and burn buildings down and won't be punished for it.

    Well you'd probably believe that if you read the Daily Mail. In the real world however, under Labour the prison population rose to it's highest ever level, a higher level than anywhere else in Europe. This was against a background of crime decreasing ever year under the British Crime survey. Labour were certainly not soft on crime.

    This problem has happened under the Tory coalition. In Tottenham where it started, the Tories have caused more than half the youth clubs to be closed. A week before the riots started, there were predictions that putting these kids onto the streets with nothing to do would lead to riots. Right wingers are so short sighted - they don't see beyond the end of their noses. Penny-wise, pound foolish.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

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