As London braces for a possible fourth night of violence, the local MP for Tottenham, where rioting first erupted on Saturday, has apparently called for BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to be shut down this evening to disrupt the plans of would-be rioters.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, David Lammy said that the service is helping the rioters to organise themselves in a way that leaves the police constantly one step behind.
The point has been made before, and holds some truth given that BBM's encrypted messages effectively give the looters a private social network to communicate without fear of surveillance.
Twitter has also been blamed for helping groups to co-ordinate their efforts in an agile and dynamic way, although the authorities, of course, are technically able to monitor these communications.
It remains to be seen whether shutting BBM would actually do much to dent the success of the rioters. Some have suggested, in fact, that mobile operators could already be complying with the authorities to allow access to mobile data.
If this is true, and if RIM complies in decrypting the messages, it could be better to keep the service up and running to monitor messages and catch those responsible.
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