As you may already know, names, dates of birth and addresses of convicted criminals are all public record in the UK. It’s been customary for these things to be published for years. What’s not common, however, is to see them broadcast on Twitter. The Greater Manchester Police [GMP], however, seem to be doing just that.
As more people are being convicted of looting during the riots that have plagued London and other areas across the country over the past few days, the GMP have taken to Twitter perhaps in order to make sure that nobody confuses the convicted with an innocent person of the same name. Of course, it could be that the GMP is simply publishing the information in order to show the public that they are indeed making arrests. Facing facts, there would be nothing worse than coming home to your wife screaming at you for having been convicted of looting when you weren’t.
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This news comes in the wake of the fact that the UK government is looking at whether it’s the right idea to block access to social media during times of “emergency”. While we do know that police are using Flickr to identify looters, there’s no word yet on precisely how effective that method has been.
The question that ultimately comes to mind is one of safety for the convicted, and whether or not they should have an expected right to it. While publishing names and information in a local newspaper might be every bit as public, the extent of Twitter’s reach seems to place the information into a considerably wider view.
A tip of the hat to Tom from WinRumors for the heads up.