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Technology Blamed For Helping UK Rioters 682

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 Grumbleduke ( 789126 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:06AM (#37032890) Journal

    Today has been a rather different story - Twitter has been used to organise a community-driven clean-up process, with large numbers of people gathering in the damaged areas of London to help fix things and tidy up. #riotcleanup [] is still trending worldwide, and has been for most of the day, #riotwombles [] (a wonderful tag) has been used for organising people on the streets, and @riotcleanup [] has picked up over 70,000 followers today. There's also a sort of website [] running now.

    Social media, the Internet and technology in general are just tools - it's how people use them that matters; and today we've definitely seen them being used for good.

  • by gibletparade ( 1033096 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:10AM (#37032940)
    But these people are not using tech to organise a campaign for democracy. They are living in a democracy, using tech to organise theft and destruction of that democracy.

    It isn't Aung San Suu Kyi we're dealing with here. It's these clueless bitches: []

    Who is suggesting terminating connections? I'm happy with tapping.
  • Technology "blamed"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:13AM (#37032970) Journal

    I've followed the BBC feed on the riots, and I can't say I've heard anyone, including the police, "blame" the technology, as much as simply acknowledging that the rioters use it to organize. That's it. Nobody is screaming "remove technology from the premises".

  • Re:round 'em up (Score:4, Informative)

    by causality ( 777677 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:59AM (#37033566)

    At this point, regardless of individual beliefs... I'm sure that they would prefer to NOT have rioting than incite more riots.

    They are called agent provocateurs. If you have never heard of them and have never read of instances in which they are known to have been used, and why, then no offense but you are ignorant about this subject and should not be stating your "certainties" lest you become the blind leading the blind...

    Most people are blissfully unaware of just how devious their governments actually are. Also, "expanding government for the sake of power" is not an "individual belief". It is very much a shared ideal.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:15PM (#37033778) Homepage Journal

    Specious Bullshit.

    Texas has the highest number of cattle per ranch; clearly that why you don't see destructive flash mobs.
    Hey, Texas has a nigher suicide rate then Wisconsin, clearly that's because lots of Texans walk around armed all the time.
    Stop pushing your ideological statements and specious reasoning and use facts.

    The highest gun death is in the states with the highest gun ownership.

    Texas has a lower concealed weapon owner ship then Michigan. Does Michigan have few crimes then Texas? How about Florida?
    Do any of these states:

    Percent of Adults with a License to Carry in each Shall Issue State

    7.45% South Dakota
    6.79% Indiana
    6.76% Pennsylvania
    5.23% Connecticut
    5.12% Washington
    4.34% Idaho
    4.10% Utah
    3.86% Oregon
    3.45% Tennessee
    3.15% Alabama
    2.72% Florida
    2.71% Kentucky
    2.67% Wyoming
    2.41% Maine
    2.18% Arkansas
    2.11% Virginia
    1.94% West Virginia
    1.76% Arizona
    1.75% Oklahoma
    1.70% Montana
    1.70% Michigan
    1.62% Texas

    Do you even realize that per capita, there are 32 other states that has more gun ownership then Texas?
    More data:
    States with the Five HIGHEST Per Capita Gun Death Rates

    Louisiana--Rank: 1; Household Gun Ownership: 45.6 percent; Gun Death Rate: 19.58 per 100,000.
    Alabama--Rank: 2; Household Gun Ownership: 57.2 percent; Gun Death Rate: 16.99 per 100,000.
    Alaska--Rank: 3 (tie); Household Gun Ownership: 60.6 percent; Gun Death Rate: 16.38 per 100,000.
    Mississippi--Rank: 3 (tie); Household Gun Ownership: 54.3 percent; Gun Death Rate: 16.38 per 100,000.
    Nevada--Rank: 5; Household Gun Ownership: 31.5 percent; Gun Death Rate: 16.25 per 100,000.

    States with the Five LOWEST Per Capita Gun Death Rates
    Hawaii--Rank: 50; Household Gun Ownership: 9.7 percent; Gun Death Rate: 2.58 per 100,000.
    Massachusetts--Rank: 49; Household Gun Ownership: 12.8 percent; Gun Death Rate: 3.28 per 100,000.
    Rhode Island--Rank: 48; Household Gun Ownership: 13.3 percent; Gun Death Rate: 4.43 per 100,000.
    Connecticut--Rank: 47; Household Gun Ownership: 16.2 percent; Gun Death Rate: 4.95 per 100,000.
    New York--Rank: 46; Household Gun Ownership: 18.1 percent; Gun Death Rate: 5.20 per 100,000.


  • by 0-until-pink ( 202599 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:28PM (#37033914)

    Have you been following the London riots at all? I suggest looking at some of the links marked #londonriots on Twitter. You don't need an account. These kids are not fighting the power. They are smashing up and looting locally owned stores in their community and setting fire to buildings with people asleep upstairs in them and then actively preventing fire fighters from putting out the fires.
    I'm not sure what that has to do with labor union demos?

  • Re:round 'em up (Score:4, Informative)

    by causality ( 777677 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @01:02PM (#37034358)

    I'm well aware of agent provocateurs... however widespread civil unrest WITHIN YOUR OWN NATION is not generally the aim of agent provocateurs. Their use is normally to destabilise foreign sovereign nations, not your own.

    The first thing that came up when I Googled this subject was the FBI's COINTELPRO operation. Guess who it targeted? US citizens. A US law enforcement agency using agent provocateurs to target US citizens. That should qualify as "within your own nation" (even without the caps lock). You talk like this is somehow unheard-of. It is not, not by a long shot.

    COINTELPRO was intended to disrupt political groups within the US. These include the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panthers, and others.

    Oh, and the New York City police were known to use these tactics against the protesters of the 2004 National Republican Convention... in New York City. I'd say both of those are within the USA.

    If you are a government official, your own nation is what you should be most concerned about. Whether you want to work towards martial law or whether you want to get rid of pesky opposition groups, this is logically the case once you have power-hungry people who love power for its own sake, whose only concern is whether something will obtain the results they desire.

    The purpose of an agent provocateur is to cause someone to break the law. It's the kind of thing that would be called "entrapment" if a police officer openly did it. So they act through proxies. What you're thinking of is something similarly devious but with a different goal. What you're thinking of is more like the way the US used its intelligence agencies to destabilize Iran in the 1950s and overthrow its democratically elected government, replacing it with a dictator. Yes, that is one possible use of this kind of technique, but you limit yourself if you really do not see how it could be applied domestically.

    To tell me you are well informed about this subject but had no idea it wasn't limited to only one very specific, narrow use ... well, it sounds like an absurd attempt to save face.

  • by Bootsy Collins ( 549938 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:37PM (#37040310)

    By the "underclass," I presume you mean 13-17 year old kids from middle class families, since that's apparently the makeup of most of the looters.


    Uh, pretty much every single article in the BBC, the Guardian, or the Times today? That's why Tim Godwin was repeatedly quoted and shown on TV Monday night as saying that the most essential thing to control Tuesday night's rioting was for parents to keep their kids at home.

    Looking at the footage reveals that most of the looters are black.

    Not what I'm seeing on BBC or ITN. Stuff like the two white teenage girls speaking here [] is a lot more typical.

    Furthermore the rioting all started in the poor areas of London - Tottenham, Toxteth, Lewisham etc.

    It started in Tottenham because the Duggan shooting was in Tottenham. Since then it's happened everywhere. Crouch End and Catford, as just two examples, don't exactly strike me as warrens of council housing.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton