Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Riots and Protests: Lessons Learned


Throughout four nights of violence in some London neighborhoods, rioters updated each other on social network sites. Police struggled to get the situation under control.

Following the protests, Prime Minister David Cameron told members of the House of Commons that police and intelligence services would look into “whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.”

In July, the fatal shooting of a homeless man by public-transportation police led to protests in San Francisco. When another protest was planned, public-transportation authorities shut down all mobile communications. The result: thousands of frustrated riders; a cyber attack by anonymous hackers on Bay Area Rapid Transit; and a Federal Communications Commission inquiry into the matter.

But somewhere between the extremes — struggling to keep up with protests that can be planned with just a few keystrokes and a complete shut down of service — law enforcement agencies need to develop an effective cyber policy.

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