Teen arrested after inciting riots using BlackBerry Messenger

By DJ Reyes on 13 Aug 2011 01:31 pm EDT

A teenage girl was arrested yesterday, charged with inciting riots via RIM’s favourite messaging service, BlackBerry Messenger. She is said to have sent a BBM message encouraging others from her home town of Clacton, Essex to copy the rioting and looting that was occuring in London, an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007.

Earlier this week we reported that RIM promised to help in any way they could to aide in finding the people behind the riots. Does this mean that RIM has made their data available to the UK government? Yesterday the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron said that he would be in talks with RIM, Facebook and Twitter in order to look at ways they could prevent rioters and looters communicating through these services to organise criminal activities, stating "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" It is the wish of the UK government to stop these services during periods of unrest. MP David Lammy of Tottenham, where the riots started, made his plea of shutting down the BBM service after the first night of riots, with a lot of other MP's agreeing.

We've mentioned before that BlackBerry is very popular amongst teenagers, so it comes as little surprise that BBM would be used as a means of communication. But are the UK government right in requesting these services be stopped? And should RIM have given in to these demands?

Source: The Telegraph 

Reader comments

Teen arrested after inciting riots using BlackBerry Messenger


I think in times of trouble like those riots the other night that closing down social media (FB, twitter, BBM, MSN, YAHOO, AOL - have to include ALL forms and not just pick out certain ones) is a good idea. The spread of messages would be massively reduced if it happened. The rest of us can't really complain because they're all free services anyway...I would rather less rioting than a few hours on BBM....

I think the answer lies in the arrest procedues whete the phone would be tsken aeay. Read the bbm messages and... Bingo!

I AGREE!... I think people automatically paint this as if RIM is just giving out user info all willy-nilly. But like you, I think it's likely that people are getting arrested for whatever reason and are then having their phones searched which reveals the BBM evidence. So the BBM message may be getting them charged, but the way the BBM message was obtained may have nothing to do with RIM.

BB is chosen by a lot of people due to this "secure" communication. I don't think that any social app should be "cut" in any way because of the riots. I only think that people participating in those riots should be legally punished. Blame the participants who have a choice on the matter, not a company's bread and butter because of teens who can't make a point when it comes to harming others.

I agree. There should be no reason why the social media is brought into this. The only thing that RIM and the others would have to agree to is identifying who the user's carrier is after found out on the phone of someone that was already caught, all the contacts lited in the conversation. I think that the carriers need to shut off service to those specific phones for illegal use.

Shutting down social media is ridiculous. During the Egyptian riots these services were commended for rallying the people in the name of democracy who were exhibiting the same type of behaviour. Yet when it occurs in the backyard of the countries that were heralding the services it suddenly becomes a tool of evil and has to be shut down for the greater good of society.

It's censorship and countries should look at the reasons why riots occur and address the dissatisfaction of the populace instead of trying to blame social media. The people that use the tools should be prosecuted, but why should the vast majority of people who are using these services for no criminal ends pay the price for the minority?

You are right!

This thing is exactly and as how i remember, was in our class room when a stupid kid did something wrong and was in our calls we all had to pay with a price of TEST lol, and all the time we ware against that shit thing, why we all have to take that test cause of a stupid kid in our class he should take take it by him self.
So the same thing it happens in our Society but a bit bigger class room, if one stupid group start a riot on BBM why we all have be Blocked from BBM, this thing i dont understand.

Any way this is a good thing and im so happy when they find the bad guys but we dont have to suffer all from this.


Yes, I also agree. Social media and the BB is a tool and nothing more. If someone develops secure and anonymous communication tools, it benefits everyone, but it also benefits the bad guys. You have to take the good with the bad and weigh them with every new technology. The printed word, the telephone, and now the internet have all been used for beneficial and anti-humanitarian ends. We pay for the tool and we use the tool, don't let the gov' dictate what we can say to eachother and don't let them scan our stuff. The complacent tone on this site makes me think all BB owners are total corporate clones who tow the party line! You never know when you'll want to excercise your right to free speech even if it goes against "common thought". Cmon' I don't condone crimes or violence, but it's not social media that's to blame. We used to think it was undemocratic for former Soviet Russia and China to read peoples mail and shut down delivery, and now there's people on here practically condoning it all over! Crazy times indeed!

New to bb.

RIM in the UK is to be commended for leading police to riot facilitators, but especially they should be encouraged not to take down instant messaging anywhere. Average citizens need BBM to insure the safety of their families and friends when riots are taking place.

I bet the evidence was from someone who received the message.

Also, why would RIM store messages? BBM is not an email service, there would be no reason at all to store messages (at least after they have been delivered) for any other reason that spying... Why would RIM spend the extra dough on storage? There is no other reason why they need to store messages beyond delivery.

I think RIM needs to answer this question... Exactly how did the UK get this information (again, here's hoping it was from a recipient), and if they store BBM messages,, WHY?

I don't by any means support the riots,,, I don't support such invasion of privacy.

I find it interesting that the UK headlines just a week before was about invasion of privacy (phone hacking) and how it is bad... Now the news is how invasion of privacy is good.

I understand these are two different things here, but bottom line is, invasion of privacy is not good period.

sorry i know the point your trying to make, but i have to disagree, the law set out (search RIPA 2000) clearly states the procedures, its not like `lets have a look in this random persons phone` there has to be evidence to support the data request, and even then it requires a high up person to authorise it.
bottom line, if you arent doing anything wrong then you wont be under suspicion, and if your not under suspicion then theres no grounds for them to look.

SO TRUE. so many people are up in arms about getting their privacy invaded. if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about.

simple solution to end the riots and looting. shoot on sight order how many people are gonna risk their lives for a tv

i know i know unrealistic

There are a few scum bags that are rioting, and I dont want to see innocent people hurt, but why should we all be punished re no BBM just for the sake of a few wankers? The UK Govt should NOT take down BBM and no other messaging services. They should not discriminate against BBM - its stupid. Get the rioting scum and put them in prison.

I think we need to decide if we want to live in free society or a controlled society. I'm not advocating for either, I'm just saying lets decide.

If we're free, then people have the right to communicate until they breach laws that put other people at risk. However, we need to ask should we have legal surveillance and blackouts as a pro-active measure in case something happens ? Do we take the good with the bad if we want to live free ?

In a controlled society, we would live under the assumption that we're all being constantly watched and behave accordingly. Those who say "I don't do anything, so I don't need to worry" are correct. However, let's not complain when our communications are tapped and our mail opened.

Living across the pond in the US, my view is to shoot looters first and then ask questions, and I'm not alone in my beliefs. I also know that a California train station shut down internet service because it got wind that people were going to protest/riot on the platforms during rush hour, and they didn't want innocent people injured or worse, killed. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that teens and 20 somethings don't think about the consequences of their actions. As a teacher, I have seen to many times parents baling their kids out of trouble or making excuses for them, instead of letting them receive the natural consequences that should take place. Having said all of that, who decides when messaging needs to be curtailed or monitored? I agree that if you are innocent, you shouldn't worry; however I see our rights slowly being eroded away.

I don't think they should shut down nothing. I think Sky News & BBC news were more pivitol than BBM in speading the word, more so on the days after the initial incident. People were watching the news seeing that the police weren't doing nothing and going out to loot. Everyday ppl were getting up watching news and it was moving from city to city. Solve the problems and stop looking for excuses what will they be saying next no news or papers.

I think when teens saw the riot on the news, it motivated them to do the same when they saw that the looters were getting away with it. Shutting down Sky News and BBC News should also be considered. Sure, other people watch the news for information, but so did the rioters.

Shutting down the News maybe going too far. They could just censor it. That way when there's social unrest, no one will know about it because the News won't reporter it. Like, people who complain about the RIP act 2000 could potentially incite violence. So they should be censored from using social media or having their voice heard in News media.

I was appalled at the unnecessary and pointless violence in London. However, I just want to point out that it's a slippery slope when we allow precedence for government to control media, no matter how justified it appears at the time. We in the West seemed to think it was great when social media was causing unrest in the Middle East, a people gaining their freedom using the power of technology... what was better than that? Three or four months later that power is used against us and we cry out how terrible the technology is. So it's good when it's for us, and bad when it's against? You can't have it both ways. That's the formula for oppression if you ask me.

If people break the law it's illegal and they should pay the price. Simple as that.

Shutting down the news outlets is the most rediculous idea so far... Why not just don some brown shirts while we're at it.

Arm the police. Enforce the law. We don't need new laws. We don't need to let the government gain access to our phones, emails, or our computers. Protests in a civil society are allowed and we should protect that right. Civil unrest, damaging property, and violence are illegal, and they should simply be arrested. Police should be empowered to take action, not stand around and watch it, and that's the fault of not police but the politicians who were paralyzed by political correctness - afraid they might upset someone.

Never trade your rights for security. That is the path to totalitarianism.

The riots were a disgrace but shutting down BBM or other media is not the answer. For every thug using BBM (allegedly!) for organizing looting and arson there were probably many more people keeping in touch with friends and family to make sure they were ok.

RIM, please don't give in. Riots are a result of "bad government", why would anybody want to listen to recommendations of a "bad government"? If the government was doing a fine job "for the people" the people would take care of the thugs before they even get started.
We all know that the government uses the paid for media to spread their crap to us, so is it any wonder they want to shut down people telling each other the truth? The one thing they can't have is the truth out among the people since that will upset their apple cart.