U.K. officials call for BlackBerry network shutdown; RIM hacked after offering help to authorities

The official blog of Research in Motion was hacked today by Team Poison. The Canadian company had earlier promised to help British authorities track down BlackBerry users suspected of involvement in the local unrest. From AFP:

"If you do assist the police by giving them chat logs, GPS locations, customer information and access to peoples' BlackBerry Messengers, you will regret it," said the post.

The message went on to say a hacked database containing the names, addresses and phone numbers of RIM employees would be made public and "passed onto rioters" if RIM did not comply.

"Do you really want a bunch of angry youths on your employees doorsteps?" it warned. "Think about it."

RIM officials in Britain offered Monday to assist authorities "in any way possible."

I doubt this will be much help to anyone worried by RIM's presumed eagerness to hand over its secure messaging system for state inspection.

CNN reports that there are further demands to completely shut down the network.

Some London public officials have asked RIM to shut down BlackBerry Messenger temporarily to stem further unrest. A representative for RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What next? Facebook and Twitter?


  1. So, can someone explain to me why BlackBerries, in particular, are the tool of choice for the modern rioter?

    1. Regular GSM phones send messages via the phone carrier, so you can eavesdrop on their text messages and phone calls at the same time.   Blackberry provides encrypted messaging, and if you want to eavesdrop you need assistance from RIM,  instead of just from the phone carrier, who have already been assisting the police with their enquiries. They’re also good platforms for typing text messages on, and have cameras like anything from the past decade.

      The police have real-time radio and data communications when they’re trying to kettle a peaceful demonstration, so mobile phone coordination has been important for organized demonstrators trying not to be attacked like that.  On the other hand, rioters like the current thugs don’t need as much coordination, except to contact their buddies with panicked rumours, or to let them know where there’s a liquor store that hasn’t been looted yet.

        1. An ‘insurrection’ that targets not the seats of power and authorities that those involved have legitimate complaint against (police, city authorities, government) but instead mostly small, locally-owned businesses, random passers-by, and the odd medium-enterprise chain store? 

          Most curious.

          These people have legitimate reasons to be angry. That fact does not make it acceptable for them to vent that anger in any way they want to. There is a serious paucity of logic in this debate.

          1. understanding the reasons why this is happening isn’t the same a condoning the violence.

            it’s just that the media is using the word ‘riot’ (and other words) to take away the focus from the real issue, by making these kids look like they just missed some good parenting.

  2. Blackberrys allow for private, PIN protected Group chat-rooms, intended for the corporate sorts. But kids. You know kids. They’re smart. A lot smarter than they’re given credit for…

    1. that’s a common mis-conception. generally kids aren’t that smart with technology. sure they can press buttons and send messages but if something goes wrong and there’s a problem they’re clueless.

  3. I’m more interested why a publicly owned company  with  brand problem swould put its brand at risk. If you knew that purchasing its product would lead to a lack of privacy would you purchase the next generation?

    1. I think you’re missing the brand problem here. “Your product is associated in the public’s mind with kids looting and burning shops” is a worse PR situation to be in than “your product is associated in the public’s mind with catching kids who loot and burn shops”.

  4. They should also take down all the telegraph lines and ask Mr. Marconi to turn off his wireless.

  5. RE: Why Blackberries/BBM: “This could be attributed to the fact that BBM messages are free and private to send—or simply because 37 per cent of 16 – 24 year olds in the UK own a BlackBerry, according to Ofcom.” http://gizmodo.com/5829077/blackberrys-site-hacked-after-rim-vows-to-help-bring-bbm+using-rioters-to-justice

  6. Is there any record of the people attempting this denouncing it in the case of recently fallen or troubled middle eastern regimes?  Might be good for a laugh.

  7. Funny how when Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Iran shut down the net the West complains. Yet when we suffer some unrest, …. shut down the web. Remember folks it’s not fascism when we do it.

    1. No, it’s not fascism when you’re trying to prevent vandals from ransacking and burning down your cities for no reason than greed and boredom, rather than prevent people trying to achieve political freedom. Not to say I think RIM sharing people’s private communications is a good idea in any case.

      1. So you think these kids have no reason at all to be unhappy? Just because they don’t know exactly who to blame, it doesn’t mean they aren’t being beat down.

      2. “No, it’s not fascism when you’re trying to prevent vandals from
        ransacking and burning down your cities for no reason than greed and

        Most people I know, including myself, are all too often both rather greedy and rather bored. People don’t destroy their own cities from greed and boredom; they do it because of the almost-always-justified frustration they feel towards the governments and institutions of said cities.

        1. Then they should take their issues to the government facilities, not to their neighbors’ shops and homes. During the initially peaceful protests of Kishinev, Moldova, even the youth who started the trouble were intelligent enough to do that.

      3. I’m sorry Mr Hiles. I agree they need to be stopped, but you don’t stoop to censorship and shutting down the best printing press history has ever known. You take your licks and find another way. Today it may be the actions of thugs who you want to censor, but I can assure you the state’s list of people who need to be silenced is much longer than yours. … Well, I hope it is.

        How about this. Use social media to spread the location of gathering mobs to form anti-mobs. Outnumber these guys, take photos of them. Photograph their iris’, photograph their hand prints. Post them on facebook and other social media. Block them with sheer numbers from having the freedom of movement to do violence. That’ll take care of things real fast now won’t it?

        1. Did you read my post? It was short but you seem to have missed the part where I said “Not to say I think RIM sharing people’s private communications is a good idea in any case.”

      4. do you know what fascism means? Because preserving “order” is part of it, and it doesn’t really have anything to do with the reasons for disorder. Fascism is about where the power lies and how it is enforced, it’s not just a term for things we disagree with. Anyway, fascists often call desires for political freedom (and the material resources which that requires) “disorder” or greed and lack of discipline . 
        The linking of state, police, and corporate power in order to maintain an existing social order (which is pretty much what you said), is a pretty good beginning definition of fascism. It’s about mechanisms of social control.

        And to turn it around – if granting political and economic freedom (again, including the resources required to be actually free) to
        the rioters caused the riots to stop or prevented riots, one might then say they were
        rioting for political freedom…

        1. I think it’s highly unlikely that any of the children smashing windows and stealing training shoes and alcohol in my city are seeking political freedom. If they are it’s quite confusing that the targets they use to express their desire for freedom also coincide with places they can fulfill shallow material desires.

    2. In Lybia and Egypt, not one store got looted. In Syria, it’s thej government that is looting stores to retaliate against people taking part in general strikes.  

    3. Except here people aren’t rioting for freedoms. They are looting, destroying buildings and burning homes. interviewed on BBC News, 2 girls said they’re doing it because ‘it’s fun, we’re showing the rich that the poor can do whatever we want. i’m drinking wine at 9am that i stole from a shop. the police can’t stop me’

      Sounds like oppression to me!

      1. > 2 girls said they’re doing it because ‘it’s fun, we’re showing the rich
        that the poor can do whatever we want. i’m drinking wine at 9am that i
        stole from a shop. the police can’t stop me’

        > Sounds like oppression to me!

        Sounds like class war to them, and to me… it is a moment of material freedom in a lifetime of economic oppression, yes.

  8. Also, how the heck do you define who is “suspected of being involved in local unrest’? at this point i have a feeling anyone under the age of 30  who lives in particular parts of town could fall into that category.

  9. Wait, how are these riots even happening?  I thought we put CCTVs on every lamppost so this couldn’t happen.

  10. True, but every civil disturbance is always defined by the people in power as nothing but a band of thugs, who gets to make these distinctions? This might be one of those cases where that is correct (i have been paying no attention to this to be honest) but it seems hard to define in most cases.

      1. Is that Alan Partridge? “Please, I’m asking you. Don’t swear because we’re live on air.”

  11. I guess there is now an excellent example of how watching something does not give the ability to prevent it. The irony is rather thick though is it not?

  12. Because if we turn off their Blackberries, all of these people are just going to stop.  The voices in their little black messengers will stop making them do bad things.

    What you have here is a situation spiraling out of control, and the people in charge are being completely clueless.

    There was a shooting, and rather than attempt any human compassion for the family who merely wanted a conversation with a Sr. police officer… they were left outside.
    More people came to protest/hold vigil…. and still no one came outside.
    The crowd continued to grow, and there were noises of people being very upset by the fact the police would not take a moment for the family.
    They waited for HOURS, politely and were blown off.

    Now you add to this people who feel downtrodden and ignored on a daily basis.
    People who have no love for the police who seem to have no problem bothering them over little things, while people doing worse seem to walk unimpeded.

    Add in a few people who are there just to add to the problem and inflame the crowd.
    The issue is the police made the fuse that much shorter by keeping the family in the dark and waiting for a simple conversation.

    You have people who just want to steal, to stick it to the man. 
    Considering how they have been treated, one is surprised this did not happen sooner.

    You have the people swept up in the moment, engaging in acts well outside of their normal behavior urged on by a mob mentality.

    You have people truly disgusted by what they see as a total disregard for a human being killed.

    You have newspapers and media reports grabbing onto tiny fragments of truth and spinning tales to get them sales at the expense of the truth.

    It might be time for them to stop trying to think they can just tell the kids the street lights are on, go home now.

    My view is more than likely skewed, I’m not in the UK I do not have first hand information.
    I try to read many different points of view being posted, and try to find the truth somewhere in the middle.

    But I can see a situation growing out of control as people express a whole bunch of pent up rage and anger at a system that treats them poorly.
    A police force overwhelmed, and bewildered… trying to find the magic button they can press to make it all better.  There is not such a button, and this ends poorly no matter what.  Stop trying to shift the blame onto the web, messaging, etc.  Start making a plan on how to contain and control and restore order that doesn’t involve just dumping all of the blame at someone elses feet.

    1. A police force overwhelmed, and bewildered… trying to find the magic button they can press to make it all better.

      Have they tried speaking to the family like they should have in the beginning? How about apologizing for not doing so originally?

      1. They pointed out it was just procedure, and they should have understood being ignored.
        It was a lame response given after things had already gotten moving, trying to convince people everything was still ok.

        Had a Sr. Officer come out or taken the family in for a conversation even if that conversation was I have nothing to tell you yet, but this is the policy – this is what is going to happen or dared to be compassionate (remember some stories were saying he had been shot in the head execution style) the family would have said they were unhappy but at least SOMEONE had listened to them and given reasonable explanations, there still would have been some people who used it as an excuse – but it would not have been the massive tide sweeping across them.

        This is not going to be solved now with a simple conversation or statement.
        The family had asked people remain calm and not do this in the name of their loss… but when you get a large group of people who feel ignored and mistreated by a system and someone does something that is beyond the pale to the very idea of decency… you ignite a firestorm.

          1. The were already past that point.
            Its part of what lead to where they find themselves.

            The country might need to have an honest, frank, open discussion after this event is over.
            To try and avoid the hyperbole and rhetoric that screwed them in the first place, and figure out why the gaping gulfs in their society exist and how can they be addressed.

            That people are stuck in their own bubbles, and think everyone else is treated like they are treated.  That the other people just want to be special, when what they really want is to just be treated like the other side is.

  13. It must hurt to know that you’ve gone from the official smartphone of Serious Suits to the emblematic riot-chav phone in just a few years… Somebody in Canada is probably crying into their coffee, remembering the good old days when cozying up to the powers-that-be meant keeping messages private…

  14. Yes, I’m sure these impoverished youths rioting in London have the means and will to travel abroad to beat up random RIM employees.

  15. Who else thinks if they decide to shut down the entire network, that the rioting is going to grow in scope and scale as people consider it a direct attack from the Government and its agents on the people?

  16. Rioters didn’t depend on BlackBerry during the Brixton, Chapeltown, Handsworth, Moss Side and Toxteth riots thirty years ago.  The New York riots of 1977 were facilitated by an electrical blackout. 

    BlackBerry may be of use to report a shop on fire, but it certainly isn’t necessary toward setting one alight.

    1. It is aiding the rioters in their ‘hit and fade’ tactics.  Groups are monitoring the police and coordinating attacks on a street by street basis.
      Now, if you disable BBM they’ll all just switch to another system, but it is certainly aiding in the strategy, if not the actual act of putting a bin through a window.

  17. Don’t forget the Rodney King style beating the coppers gave to the 16 year old girl who asked them to address the family and threw a piece of paper at them when they failed to respond. That really set people off as well and the vid of it flew. You should have seen the way they beat her with the batons as she was down on the ground. She tried to get up and they pushed her back on the ground and continued beating her. It was shocking to see.

    1. I was not aware of that incident, and its horrible.
      There are eye witness accounts as well of video of it happening.

      It is unbelievable, to see the escalation happen.
      There is a void of any information, and that void was filled with rumors and guesses.
      And if you had doubts about if maybe he was handcuffed before he was shot, seeing a pack of police officers decent on a 16 yr old girl and beat her just helped confirm that the police could have done that to someone without a second thought.
      That they could have brutalized him, and they don’t have to take it anymore.

      Then the reports of the police not being around as things went from bad to worse, and if they did show up being outnumbered and outwitted as people just used sidestreets to avoid them and move to another area.

      1. “My view is more than likely skewed, I’m not in the UK I do not have first hand information. I try to read many different points of view being posted, and try to find the truth somewhere in the middle.””There is a void of any information, and that void was filled with rumors and guesses.”
        Have you considered not speculating and commenting, then? I mean, is it actually helpful? (Reason I’m commenting is because there’s been rioting less than 5 minutes away from my house, and I’m trying to fill the void with something other than rumours and guesses.)”It is unbelievable, to see the escalation happen.””Then the reports of the police not being around as things went from bad to worse, …”

        This is the dichotomy the police face: Being simultaneously painted as too violent and gung-ho, and simultaneously useless. It does feel a bit of a false dichotomy, though. They should be able to work out that although the public have been ‘unhappy’ with them for how they deal with peaceful protestors, both in the last few days, and the last few months, there is also a very clear line between using force there and using it against active rioters.

        Someone more cynical than myself might suggest they’re deliberately holding back in order to move public opinion over to being more in favour of force in the future. Probably at future peaceful protests.

        1. I thought it was helpful for people who were completely unaware the riots were still happening.  I thought trying to understand the situation might stop much of the well they just want expensive things for free talk, and they might look at how screwed that segment of the population is/was/will be and the Government even now is clueless as to the reasons some of them are angry.

          I found my sources of information, and rather than call myself an expert I pointed out I am trying to find a middle ground in all of the hyperbole and rhetoric.  Hopefully this will encourage others to look at more than just 1 news source, 1 youtube report and claim to know it all.

          The reports of the police not being around were about the initial rioting where there were regular citizens trying to get any help as fires were set and stores looted.  Not about a balance of good cop bad cop.

    2. The video that is doing the rounds is useless as far as this incident is concerned.  Were you there?  What details can you give?

    3. the Rodney King style beating the coppers gave to the 16 year old girl

      The evidence for this incident is disturbingly lacking. We’re 4 days on and still don’t have any confirmation that it actually happened. It’s starting to look like it didn’t.

      1. i’ve seen a few videos of it on the news – albeit shaky cameraphone videos. i can’t see that it’s a girl, but the police are definitly beating someone on the ground, and for much longer than it would take to subdue someone when there’s 7 or 8 police standing around them, and the crowds shouting for them to stop as it’s ‘just a girl’. based on how i’ve seen UK police behave with peaceful protesters in the past (and myself when i was walking home and obviously not part of the protest a couple of years ago) I have no problem believing they’d beat a girl like this.

      2. I imagine that the media corps are not broadcasting it far and wide so as to not incite yet more rioting. At least, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on the short term.

          1. I’m honestly not trying to be difficult, but I can barely even see a person amongst those coppers, never mind tell whether it’s a girl, or that she’s 16. I’m not saying that the police didn’t viciously gang-beat a 16-year old girl. I’m saying I haven’t seen any conclusive proof that they did. And if this video is the only proof that it happened, nobody who wasn’t there has either. An unfocused, jumpy, undated, unlocated video posted anonymously on Youtube is so far from being proof that it’s depressing to see smart, thoughtful (presumably, on my BB-readers prejudice) people spreading rumours on this basis.

            People with intelligent heads on their shoulders need to be a bit less credulous, and a lot more frickin’ responsible, before spreading hearsay and material that is potentially so inflammatory. For instance, have any of the news organisations that wouldn’t normally hesitate to expose police brutality picked this up, or even tried to identify the girl?

  18. Sometimes after I’ve had a couple of drinks I see a post on the internet that makes me wonder if all the kerfluffle about information as a tool of democracy & technology as a tool of equality might not be such a naive pipedream after all.

  19. Well, if any rioters do get nabbed as the result of RIM surrendering their identities, I sure hope the rioters get ASBOs (Anti Social Behavior Orders.) 

    The wide-spread rioting in the UK makes it clear that not nearly enough ASBOs are being issued. I bet if every citizen was issued an ASBO crime and behaviors such as aggravated humming would virtually disappear over-night! 

    1. I bet if every citizen was issued an ASBO crime and behaviors such as aggravated humming would virtually disappear over-night!

      Only one per citizen? Why aim so low?

  20. Anyone else have the suspicion that the hack was an inside job? RIM has a lot of internal conflict right now, they just laid off a bunch of people and there have been a few open letters from employees blasting the upper management. There is quite clearly a lot of bad feeling in the company to begin with and I’d imagine some employees would consider being told to spy on people for the British police to be the last straw.

  21. BlackBerry were nuts to offer to violate peoples privacy without a formal demand from the government.  On the other hand the response from the hackers is clearly violent criminal thuggery.  The riots themselves aside, and their causes aside, anyone who threatens to smash and burn the homes of people because the work for a particular company is a thug.

  22. I strongly suspect that too many bankers use Blackberries to allow the authorities to shut down the network.

  23. Freedom is the battle we’ll have to fight in the West. We got used to it, but now the governments are cracking down on it everywhere : USA, France, UK, Australia. All those “Modern Countries” are working on regulating our communication methods and controlling the information : TV, Internet, Text messages, RIM network…
    They’re now fully aware of the power of such tools (Arab revolutions), so they’ll do everything to control them.
    we are slowly but surely moving towards a new dark age, while we have all those wonderful tools to open our minds… Very sad
    Good luck to all

  24. Fucking hell. At this point, only one of two extremes is going to “solve” these riots: A long and detailed program to address greviances by the “lower classes” (because, really, this is just class warfare–I can picture Baroness Thatcher snorting and telling people ‘I told you so’ already) and remedy the social dysfunction that’s been allowed to stew and rot for decades…

    Or declare martial law and bring military forces onto London streets to restore order.

    Which one is easier and therefore more likely? Which one will ACTUALLY solve the problem? Jesus, the nanny state is clueless as well as useless.

    1. Or declare martial law and bring military forces onto London streets to restore order.

      The UK would have to rent mercenaries then. The military is in Iraq and Afghanistan. When there were disastrous floods in the UK a couple of years ago, they didn’t have adequate military personnel to help (which would have been the normal procedure) because they were off keeping the US happy.

      1. I hear Blackwa– I mean Xe isn’t very busy. Maybe the UK could get assistance from EU neighbours. Boy, that’d go over well in the press, Belgian troops in the streets. Or French.

        A UN peacekeeping mission would be deliciously ironic… but possibly necessary if things don’t improve.

      2. Antinous – that’s just not true I’m afraid – on two counts.  I was involved in the 2007 flooding response – and there were plenty of military assets there – from the Army Logistics Corp delivering thousands of litres of water to houses cut off from the mains, to helicopters from the Army, RN and RAF moving resources and rescuing people, to Ghurka engineers helicoptered into build sandbag walls.  There was certainly no shortage of military personnel then.

        In terms of now, in Afghanistan there are around 10,000 UK service personnel and 1,300 in Libya.  The British Army alone had 110,000 regulars and 30,000 reservists.  There are plenty of troops about if they were needed. 

        Of course, that is not to say there use would be a good thing.

    2. “Fucking hell. At this point, only one of two extremes is going to “solve” these riots: A long and detailed program to address greviances by the “lower classes” […]
      Or declare martial law and bring military forces onto London streets to restore order.”
      Thank you for your deep insight. Shame London was actually pretty quiet last night after being flooded with (non-military) police.

      1. I hadn’t gotten any updates, but I hadn’t heard of any huge incidents last night (I’m out in the commonwealth territories, y’know, country bumpkin of a cousin and all). But if things had continued on, that’s where it was going.

        Hopefully the powers that be are learning the lessons from here and not just seeing a bunch of low-lifes torching things for fun. If they do, they haven’t solved anything.

  25. Thank goodness they burned down that furniture store that has been there since 1865 and even survived WWII.  It didn’t survive a bunch of self-rightious trash out to loot people struggling to make a living.  If your neighborhood was on fire I bet you wouldn’t be wringing your hands over philisophical matters.

  26. The Brits have always looked sideways at communications networks used by the unwashed masses.  Look what they did when the IRA invented broadcasting with a modified wireless telegraph.  In response to the enormous riots caused by the “Help, we’re surrounded by Limey troops in the downtown Post Office” message they nationalised all broadcasting.

    After the current riots there’ll probably be a BTC (British Tweeting Corporation) set up.

  27. First off, I’d never riot, but i can see why people would. A lot of the problem is that people are powerless. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the policies are near enough the same, and if they’re not you can guarantee big business has enough clout to swing the decision in their favour anyway. Just look at how much legislation is written by businesses, or with the help of ‘think tanks’ made up of the heads of industry. This isn’t the way to make laws that are fair for the majority of the population.

    How many peaceful protests have their been recently? and how many politicians listened? even peaceful protesters get treated like criminals and get kettled and beaten, and slated by the press. if it’s going to happen anyway, why not act the criminal and riot? it might actually get the point across to the government that they need to stop automatically siding with the police, and they need to stop giving money and tax breaks to bankers and start helping un-employed people get educations and jobs.

  28. Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.
    Remember, remember the 5th of November. The gunpowder, treason, and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.

  29. Personally, I think it’d be a bad idea to shut the network down, for two reasons:
    1) It goes against the free speech principles we, as a Western country, should aspire to. When China tells you you’re having problems because you don’t censor enough, you know you’re doing /something/ right.2) With the network up, you can continue to collect evidence against those stupid enough to use the system. There’s a legal framework in place to allow controlled collection of this evidence, and there will be a privacy statement on the BBM contract saying what they might do. I think you’d be hard-pushed as a rioter to claim about loss of privacy, as long as it’s handled legally.

    However, I suspect the BBM angle is overblown. It’s the kind of idea that carries well, independent of the reality.

    As to the people saying ‘RIM are stupid to volunteer anything other than the minimum information – it’s a PR disaster’, I think you’ve got it completely wrong. The general public will want to see RIM help stop the rioters. The general public will also want RIM to keep privacy in totalitarian states. The general public read the Sun, see no contradiction, and have no truck with a liberal elite’s hand-wringing over the fundamental nature of privacy. (Personally, as a member of Liberty and ORG, I find this a little disappointing)

    1. The general public may want RIM to help, but anyone who is considering a security phone purchase now knows that RIM cannot be trusted.

      Rim was going under anyways due to Android phones. After offering to help police get RIM customers arrested, watch for RIM to go bankrupt and/or be bought out by another company.

      It is human nature to hate traitors. If someone sells you a secure phone, then gives your messages to the police or anyone else, they are a traitor.

  30. There seems an obvious correlation between the UKs long summer school holiday and riots. If it was a winter school term you’d not have the riots. Feral kids with mobile phones, it’s not war. It’s boredom. 

    1. Correlation does not equal causation, sir. Plus, I sure hope that’s not the entirety of the picture as far as you’re concerned, or I fear that you’re part of the problem.

      1. I fail to see how my comment  or view could possibly cause the problems that are ongoing “sir”. If you believe it’s something to be condoned as some political upheaval, then perhaps you’re part of the problem? This will all be yesterdays news very soon, probably by time the kids go back to school in September. 

  31. Where’s the evidence to support the claim that cats are i) organizing, and ii) using any particular tech to do so. I only ask because footage seems to show people hanging out on the street, then slowly  patterns of humans accrue to a point (IE shop front), then a burst of thieving. It appears opportunistic, is all.

  32. As far as the cops go – I’ve been there and seen (and barely dodged) these bastards swinging truncheons at peaceful, kettled protesters. They are real tough when they have the upper hand but look like frightened deer in the headlights when outnumbered. So, I do have loads of sympathy for innocent people caught up in the mayhem, but for the coppers? Hell no. And to hear the politicians tripping over themselves to bray about how “brave” the police are makes me sick.

  33. By now, I assume that all the time involved in investigations and paperwork these incidents are going to require, Cory’s friend might write off that cell phone that was stolen the other day.

  34. People who refuse the see the political nature of rioting, burning and looting are willfully pulling the proverbial hood over their eyes– Are you really foolish enough to think that this was not the majority of what was happening off-camera in Syria, in Ciro, in the majority of places across the world where revolts have taken place?

    “we’re showing the rich that the poor can do whatever we want. i’m
    drinking wine at 9am that i stole from a shop. the police can’t stop me'”

    Sounds like pretty clear politics to me.
    This is what revolt looks like.

    Its pretty astounding that even when the UK begins to mimic what was going on in Egypt (shutting down text messaging) people will not make the connection between the two situations.

    Violence, it seems, is a good western-democratic citizen’s “~here there be dragons~”

    1. “Sounds like pretty clear politics to me.”
      Strange, because it sounds like naughty children to me. Oh wait, that’s because that IS what it is.

      1. “it sounds like naughty children to me. Oh wait, that’s because that IS what it is.”

        ‘Naughty Children’ … of one predominate racial and socioeconomic background marginalized from the politics of ‘civil society’. Sounds like racism/classism to me.

        Anyway, how are the concerns of ‘small’ business owners and mega corporations relevant to the majority of the rioters lives? Why are owners of property more sympathetic characters for us than a mass of people with no hope in a future?

        1. Classism? Well, I’m working class, poor and unemployed. So if it’s classism I must be self-hating. And if there is any one predominate racial group that’s involved in trouble in my city (Manchester) then it’s the same one I belong to (white).

          So who’s the prejudiced one? You, against me. You Tomist arsehole.

        2. “Anyway, how are the concerns of ‘small’ business owners and mega corporations relevant to the majority of the rioters lives? Why are owners of property more sympathetic characters for us than a mass of people with no hope in a future?”

          Let’s see. The stereotypical small business owner in a poorer part of London will be an immigrant from the third world. Someone whose background makes what the rioters have look like luxury. Someone who left all they knew and travelled most of the way around the world in order to give themselves better hope. They should be role models for these ‘no hopers’.

          It’s not unreasonable to guess that some of these small business owners are, say, around 30 years older than the rioters. That’d put them in the same place at the same age for the previous round of economic downturn and riots. Yet, they managed to make a go of it.

          Furthermore, ‘small business owner’ doesn’t mean they actually own a shedload of physical property. They’ve probably got rented premises and stock paid for by a bank loan. If they can’t afford insurance, they’re rather screwed.

          Sure, they’re not all like this, but the rioters aren’t exactly picky either. I saw a smashed-up charity shop in a friend’s photo stream.

          I have no more or less sympathy for the rioters than I do for any other violent criminals from deprived backgrounds.

          1. Me neither. I rarely sympathize with anyone who thinks they can carry a cricket bat to a political/ethical/intellectual debate and still expect to win.

  35. One MP suggested shutting down the network, that’s all.

    No communications have been blocked, and there’s been no suggestion from anyone else that it might be.

    You should be able to tell from CNN’s choice of words, “Some London public officials” — can you get any more ambiguous?  This is poor reporting.

  36. Yeah, fight the power.  Oooh, wait, I can haz new Nike trainers!  Fight JD-Sports and Miss Selfridges!

  37. I live in croydon, we’ve had a lot of trouble here this week. The looters are using the blackberry system to organise and regroup whereever the police aren’t.

    Shutting down or the blackberry system would take away their ability to organise like that, what they’re doing is basically flash mobbing. Then again there are plenty of other ways to organise a flash mob though none quite as portable as blackberry.
    Really there’s no need to be shutting down any networks, they just need to start arresting people. They increased police numbers in london last night to 16000, pulled in cops from miles around to cover it.Kind of workedm things were a lot quieter last night but they can’t keep 16000 cops on the beat 24/7.

    Once they’re done with the cleanup operation though they need to look at the reason why so many kids are willing to loot and burn their own neighbourhoods. There’s no political issue with these kids, for the most part they aren’t intelligent enough to articulate one. That’s one major part of the problem a shit education system, they aren’t even smart enough to target their looting.

    Two girls were on the news last night, when asked why they were rioting they just said (I’m paraphrasing) “to show the rich people and the conservatives or whatever that we can do what we like”

    They’d just been looting a local family owned corner shop, that’s what a crap education does for you, makes you shortsighted. They figure the guy running the corner shop is “rich”.

  38. Best thing said about this so far is from the football editor of the Times of all people. From Tony Evans’ Twitter:

    First off, I don’t know what’s best. But this is what I do know. Unlike
    most of you, I’ve fought with police, I’ve thrown missiles at them

    I’ve kicked in shop windows and looted stuff. I was born into an area that people told me was full of ‘the dregs of society’

    I’ve been young, poor and angry. I’ve felt there was no opportunity in
    life and all that stretched in front was a bleak, penniless future

    And I know that most people with happy, fulfilled lives don’t go on rampages of violence.

    I also know that successive Governments have put the pursuit of wealth ahead of maintaining a sense of community

    When you’ve been told there’s no society, why would you care about other people?

    When you see the bankers nearly destroy capitalism and still get their bonuses, what do you think of personal responsibility?

    The key is making people believe they have opportunities in life, not opportunities to loot

    And maybe the money spent intervening in a civil war in Libya would be better spent on schools

    I could go on, but most of you have made up your minds. You get the society you create. Enjoy it

  39. Maybe this guy shouldn’t be making moral judgments on rioters:

    got out of hand and we’d had a few drinks. We smashed the place up and
    Boris set fire to the toilets.” – David Cameron, Bullingdon Club –
    Christ Church College, Oxford, 1986.

    Even if he and his fellow swells settled up afterwards.

    The riots aren’t justified, but they are predictable as the blowout after driving on a tire long ago worn bald. Maggie Thatcher said “There is no such thing as society.” After a 32-year demolition of social infrastructure, to the profit of some, that proved true for a large number of people.

    1. Thatcher chiseled the mortar out of the foundations of UK society and Tony Blair filled the cracks with explosives. The former created an underclass and the latter developed a police state to try to control it.

      The middle class will suffer the effects of this disaster because its architects are safely on the other side of the moat.

  40. I don’t know why we are not hearing more about how this episode is similar to and different from the Watts riots, since the triggering incident was so similar and the way the riots are playing out is similar (and no one there/then had smartphones). My mother bought a copy of the official report on Watts when it came out. Each section had a title page with a large photo from the riots on it. One of those sticks in my mind: the title was “Gang Violence” and the photo was of a group of policemen dragging a Negro youth. I’ve never looked at police the same way since then.

  41. “Guns don’t kill people, people do.”
    “Networks don’t riot, people do.”

    I don’t like the first argument, but the second seems self-evident.
    I doubt the significant difference lies in the technology. 

  42. I work in healthcare. We have blackberries.  Now, there’s ways and ways to release information: with a number, RIM could release just that handset’s messages, but that’s after the riot.  In the middle of a riot, they’d have to release all handsets in a geographical area.

    That’s a huge number of sensitive users like my midwives, and a lot of tasty clinical details now released to another agency for something that isn’t related to what my people are doing.  We have to take on trust that that data won’t be mislaid or retained for off-ticket use (fishing expeditions, selling to Murdoch en bloc, that sort of thing). 

    That doesn’t sit comfortably with my admin role, not at all.  I’m kinda glad it’s blowing over before RIM have been formally asked.

  43. Hakim Bey is probably touching himself while watching live feeds, Bob Black is ripping off another appendix to the End of Work, and John Zerzan is pulling his Stirnerite hair out by the roots. “Shop Now, Riot Later!” The Noists must be pissssssed.

  44. In case people are interested what, exactly, and why RIM is likely to make available consumer (versus corporate) message communications, you may want to read my analysis of decrypting blackberry security at http://www.christopher-parsons.com/blog/technology/decrypting-blackberry-security-decentralizing-the-future/

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