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London Riots: Britain Weighs Personal Freedoms Against Need to Keep Order

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The British government is taking aim at social media amid the recent riots, claiming that it is undermining the country's democracy. British and Scottish authorities have taken into custody more than a dozen youths on suspicion of using the Internet and text messages to encourage disorder.

The crackdown caused social media advocates to respond with accusations of infringement on freedom of speech, but British Prime Minister David Cameron says the greater evil was permitting the dissemination of violent speech. He announced during an emergency session of Parliament that officials were collaborating with intelligence services and police to examine how and whether to "stop people communicating via these Web sites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder, and criminality."

Authorities claim that youths employed BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to organize disturbances, sharing meeting times and locales and, in certain instances, urging the spread of criminality.

Student activists are concerned that any restrictions could be applied beyond the mandate to quell criminality, and instead be used to suppress social dissent.

From The Washington Post
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