Executives from Twitter, Facebook and RIM have urged the government not to turn off social media services during periods of civil disturbance.
Richard Allan, director of policy for Facebook in Europe, told a Home Affairs Select Committee on Thursday that turning off access to services during periods of social unrest would be counterproductive.
"When you have 30 million people in the UK using the tool to tell family and friends they are safe, to turn it off at that stage we think would not serve the public interest," he said.
"We are extremely pleased that the home secretary has now indicated that there is no intention to seek additional powers, and we hope that position is sustained and supported by your committee."
Alexander Macgillivray, general counsel for Twitter in the US, said that it would be "an absolutely horrible idea to suspend service during important times", and that he is not aware Twitter was used to instigate crime during the riots.
Stephen Bates, UK managing director of RIM, agreed that social networks should remain on, but pointed out that the government already has the power to switch networks off if necessary.
"We take a view that communications in general and social media are a force for good. We think that is consistent with colleagues in the industry, and we don't see that [shutting down networks] is a good way forward," he said.
"What we do see within the Communications Act is that the government has powers to suspend communications networks. That power already exists, so mechanisms are already in place should that be deemed necessary by the authorities."
RIM's BlackBerry Messenger was heavily criticised during the riots, and Tottenham MP David Lammy called for the service to be switched off. Bates said that RIM would be forced to switch it off if requested by the government.
"If that was to be enacted we would meet our obligations as we've committed to under law," he said.
Home secretary Theresa May confirmed last week that the government will not seek additional powers to block social media networks, after prime minister David Cameron hinted that such a measure coud be considered.
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