Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has stated today that he is opposed to the idea that has been floating around the corridors of British power of late that access to online communication tools like Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger should be restricted in times of unrest.
Speaking at the Parliamentary Home Affairs committee hearing into the riots that briefly swept across parts of England last month, Johnson said that “The view I’m getting, this is not seen as a clear benefit for the police… there are intel advantages to being able to track this stuff.” Bloomberg also reports that Tim Godwin, acting commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, described the idea as a “net negative,” given that tools such as Twitter were also used by police to communicate with the public at these times.
As we’ve previously reported, the proposed restriction of online communication tools, brought about after rioting was organised via BlackBerry Messenger and Facebook, and false information about riots was spread via Twitter, has been a hot topic of debate in the UK of late. However, it seems that the government quickly realised that such a move was both impractical and hugely unpopular. A recent meeting between representatives of the government, Twitter, Facebook and RIM following the riots reportedly contained no discussion plans to block social networks.
Hopefully with two of London’s most senior civic figures dismissing the idea, it’s dead for good.