Following another night of disorder in a country beset by deep inequality, corruption in the halls of power, and scant opportunity for young adults, the conservative regime in Bahrain has threatened to cut off access to social networking websites until the unrest subsides. Oh sorry — this is the news from England. Via Raw Story:
In a move that calls to mind the start of the most serious unrest in nations across the Middle East over the last year, David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, told Parliament Thursday that authorities may shut down social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, in hopes that it would return calm to their streets.
The remarks came one day after British authorities discussed turning off the messaging function on BlackBerry phones, which they suggested may remove a tool protesters and rioters were using.
“Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media,” Cameron told Parliament. “Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill.
“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. I have also asked the police if they need any other new powers.”
Britain is still reeling after four of the worst nights of rioting for decades, which started in London then spread to other cities including Manchester and Birmingham after police allegedly killed a young man named Mark Duggan, a father of four, who they claimed was involved in a drug deal.
Across the Middle East, brutal, authoritarian regimes took similar action against communications in the face of unprecedented unrest, blocking Facebook, Twitter, and in many cases cutting off Internet and mobile phone access altogether, but each successive step only made the regimes’ problems worse.