In the aftermath of the riots that occurred in many major British cities earlier this month, new questions have been raised about if police should have the ability to monitor and event restrict the use of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook during times of civil unrest or when these sites are being used to plan crimes and outmaneuver police. In an NPR
piece this morning, Bill Branton, the former Chief of Police in New York and later Los Angeles who is also acting as an adviser to the British Government on how to combat organized gang violence, spoke about how the use of social media by criminals is changing the tactics of how police try and prevent crimes as well as the issues of privacy and surveillance raised by these new tactics.
Meanwhile, the New York Times
just ran a story last Thursday that British officials and representatives of Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry met to discuss voluntary ways to limit or restrict the use of these networks for criminal behavior.
What do you think? Social media has played a large role both in the revolutions of Libya and Egypt, as well as in the British riots of this month. Should law enforcement have the ability to monitor social media sites, and if so, what kinds of limitations should be put in place to help protect users' privacy?