Cameron proposes social media ban

The British government has been criticized for raising the idea of censoring social media sites in the wake of the recent riots.

Prime Minister David Cameron, with the support of the opposing Labour party, is demanding restrictions on sites that transmit messages pertaining to violence.

Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger were used by rioters to organize looting and vandalism across Britain.

"Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill," Cameron told Parliament.

"And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."

He is looking to meet next week with the heads of Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry to discuss restrictions on social media carried by their products.

But civil libertarians have slammed the move – saying it is anti-democratic. The proposal has been compared to Egypt’s attempt to censor and block the internet during a recent period of unrest.

Media lawyer Mike Conradi told the Guardian that proposed measures would require legislation and threaten free speech.
"It would certainly put the UK in a difficult position in terms of talking to authoritarian regimes and trying to convince them not to turn off their networks," he said.