Brits: Tell Parliament to keep its hands off social media

Jim from the UK Open Rights Group sez, "David Cameron is trying to gain new powers to close social media and mobile messaging when there's 'trouble': he's also thinking about new snooping powers. We need to stop these plans before they get going."
The Government is focusing on entirely the wrong problem in trying to increase their powers to ban, block or monitor people's communications. Social networks like Twitter are used for a huge array of positive purposes such as warnings of danger and organising clean up projects. Blanket surveillance measures of private communications or increased powers to mine users data would undermine people's freedom to communicate in very damaging ways, and would in no way address the problems at hand. Making laws in haste, with limited analysis and information, to deal with an exceptional problem is likely to create unbalanced laws and abuses of our rights.
Save our social media! Stop cut offs and close downs (Thanks, Jim!)

(Image: Riot Police, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from zoonabar's photostream)


    1. Right… The difference is China is actually becoming more free over the years in some circumstances.  England/USA are just getting worse and worse overall.

      Remember… Freedom isn’t freedom.  War is Peace.  Spy on your neighbor.  Lick the boots of corporatists.  Everything will be taken care of for you.

  1. This petition should be on the parliament website.  i.e. reach 100,000 signatures and it has to be debated in parliament.  Not sure about the merits of the petition on a third party website (apart from Open Groups drumming up campaign supporters)?

    1. have you heard of if not, take a peek at it. That’s a third party website that does international e-petitions.

      1. I have, but there is a very specific mechanism in the UK: if you reach 100k signatures there, parliament *has to* debate it.  This undertaking doesn’t apply to other petition websites.  I’ve left this comment on the campaign’s Facebook page and their reply was, “It’s a tough one: because we can also build a campaign. We will probably end up doing both!”

        1. Hate to come in with a bad news, but the 100K just means that someone working in parliament then decides if it get to be debated or not. It’s not a guarantee that it will happen

          Also the Gov have said that they are looking at changing the 100K limit if too many petitions get past it.

          Looking for a link to this info to post

          Right at the bottom of the page… what a surprise

          If your e-petition reaches more than 100,000 signatures, it will be sent to the House of Commons. The Office of the Leader of the House of Commons will check it against:

          the terms and conditions for e-petitions
          the rules of the House of Commons

          Successful e-petitions will be communicated to the Backbench Business Committee. It will decide if your issue will be debated in the House of Commons.

          End quote

          So business as normal and pretending to listen to the public while being able to blame some other totally unelected department for not bringing it to the gov’s attention.

          Pathetic, but what’s new.

          1. Not really that pathetic.  Between Stephen Colbert and /b/, the idea of a crank petition getting past 100k isn’t that far fetched.  This language is saying they’ve got the right to ignore something like that.

  2. I’m not sure I see a problem with it. They’re just targeting these sites when there’s a huge disruption going on.. sort of like martial law. It’s not like people CAN’T live without their facebook or twitter for a little while.

    1. What about the people that were using these sites to know where to AVOID riots, I’ve seen at least one person post that they would have walked right into the path of a riot had they not seen people posting to avoid that area. So far I’m not even aware of any evidence that social media was actually used by the rioters in any significant way. So far it’s mostly been the claims of computer illiterate politicians (including Cameron). Even the police have said in their view on balance social media has been a positive in the riots.

      1. I would think that if you were walking and saw in the distance a mob of rioters, you’d start to walk in the other direction. I’m probably way off base in thinking people can think and react that quickly though.

    2. “They’re just targeting these sites when there’s a huge disruption going on.”

      They already spy on the people on a regular basis.  They have people being recorded all day.  With all of this big brotheresque behavior these riots still happened.

      It is questionable how what started as a few people rioting was allowed to spiral into these huge out of control riots.

      If you wanted to get the people to accept giving up the last few pieces of their dignity, scaring them with the fear of the rioters using the internet to plot to get them when they are asleep.

      And if you block these sites, you can hide things that would make the world recoil in horror if they got out.

      You block other people from learning the rioters are down the street and setting fires and its time to flee your home.

      And once you give the Government any little power, you expect them to not use it and expand it.

      Because the real reason to do this could not possibly have anything to do with keeping any information from being shared with the outside world before the Government gets to make sure it says the right things.

      1. Ehh. You’re too paranoid man. Smell a fire in your house? Get out. Want an update to what’s going on? Turn on the tele. In the process of being ransacked? Right, Twitter will really help you there.

        Please. All I’m saying is that doing without facebook or twitter AIN’T GONNA KILL YA!
        Being stupid will.

        1. He’s saying it’s not whether or not you can do without it, it’s the principle of the thing.

    3. The question is to what level the citizens would prefer to empower their government (thus reducing their own power and the scope for deliberation and debate) – under ‘normal’ conditions, as well as under emergency ones.

      Greater emergency empowerment (as under martial, and as what is being proposed with these social networking limitations), actually only makes sense for a very small number of emergencies – those that are highly time sensitive, pose an existential threat to the community, and are mostly external. If one of your cities just suffered a nuclear attack and a second one is likely to arrive shortly, then there is really no scope for months of public deliberations…

      On the other hand, when the emergency situation is mostly internal – when it comes from groups within the society, there is no better situation for decreasing government power and engaging in greater discourse at a lower level. An internal disagreement that goes outside of the normal political process is a strong indication that the normal political process is broken. 

      Naturally, when something breaks you do not double down and further increase your reliance on it, but partially suspend it, open it up, and see what’s going wrong…

    4. They’re just targeting these sites when there’s a huge disruption going on.. sort of like martial law.

      In the US at least, you have to actually declare martial law to start using it. And it’s a big screaming deal to declare martial law.

    5. It’s not like people CAN’T live without their facebook or twitter for a little while.

      It’s not like people CAN’T live without internet for a while.

      It’s not like people CAN’T live without voting for a while.

      It’s not like people CAN’T live without due process for a while.

  3. This is a pro-education move by the British government, “lets force people to learn about Tor and its ilk by taking away their facebooks”

  4. Signed, shared on my buzz (through Google reader connected to the BB RSS). 

    Sadly, non-mutants (such as those I live with) seem to not get why this sort of thing is a bad plan. Might need to show them V, Brazil, and one or two others again.

  5. This is actually about the only intelligent action I’ve seen yet by the Cameron government.  OF COURSE they should be able to stop criminals from using their mobiles to organize mobs and riots. The only real question is one of public safety and the balance needed for people actually needing emergency services and who ONLY have mobiles. They could most likely ALREADY do this simply by using readily available jamming technology to block services to  a few square blocks at a time.  These are COMMERCIAL services we’re talking about here (FB, Twitter, messaging, etc.) and no one has an inherent RIGHT to these services, much less to use them to organize illegal activities.  The Brits have been so incompetent in insuring public safety that they didn’t even declare curfews……

  6. Sounds like the only practical short-term solution. For those that protest, I’d love to hear a workable alternative, hoping that it doesn’t happen again is not one.

    For those that say twitter and fb provided useful info in avoiding dangerous mobs, what about elderly people that don’t or can’t use those services? Let the computer illiteratati burn? Naw, better to prevent them in the first place I think.

  7. Outside of free speech-supporting and technical websites, I’ve seen a lot of people defending and even supporting cracking down on texts and social media.

    The British seem to be willingly throwing their freedom away as quickly as the US did after 9/11.

  8. Why are they shutting down social media? Did they shut down the London stock exchange when the banksters were looting? Once again, England’s upper classes have been setting a terrible message to the lower classes, and this can’t be good for the nation.

  9. Discontent is understandable. 
    The ideology of positive change and liberty is noble, but… 
    Rioting is the wrong tool. Rioting empowers government to institute greater restriction on liberty in the name of protecting citizens and property from the rioters. Rioting is entirely counterproductive because it alienates the public from the cause. Rioting renders activists into criminals.

    Of course, there is a question that must be asked; was creating chaos and destruction and misery the actual purpose to begin with? If so, then the positive must be surrendered, the noble ideology must yield to being identified as selfish, criminal anarchy.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. They never have and never will.

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