MI5 Is Now On the Hunt For British BBMers

Illustration for article titled MI5 Is Now On the Hunt For British BBMers

As the saga of London rioting and social media blocking continues, the British government is calling in the spooks. They're now summoning MI5 and GCHQ to help not block but track the messages that might be the root of the trouble. Christ.

As if Prime Minister David Cameron's plan to block social networking wasn't enough, British military intelligence and the Government Communications Headquarters will work in concert to try to track down riotous dissidents broadcasting calls to violence. That includes cracking BBM messages that would otherwise be secure behind the BBM network. Right, as that worked so well before.

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While both groups are acting within the confines of the law, it seems they barely toe the line if they haven't already crossed it. It is their duty to root out those who would do harm to people and property, yes. And RIM is obligated by law to submit information about their customers, if not their actual messages, if the government calls for it. But breaking into a secure network without a clear target sounds closely akin to phone tapping, doesn't it? Especially when it could affect those innocent of any wrongdoing. [The Guardian]

Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

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DISCUSSION

Only the people with something to hide need to fear big brother.

Ok, now that you've all got your rage-faces on......

I'm not well versed in the relevant laws in England, but in the states no matter what the police found about you in those messages, they can't legally use it unless it was in the specific scope of their investigation.

Example: They are looking for people inciting violence in a riot. They uncover my messages arranging to buy 50,000 kilos of cocaine. (I like to party....deal with it....)

They legally can't do anything about it.

Ok, so they pretend they didn't see it, but decide to keep an eye on me anyway. Then as they're watching me, I blow through a stop sign. They stop me. They ask to search my car and find the coke.

Since it was the BBM that led to them watching me, and the only reason they saw me blow the stop sign was because they were watching me, the coke found in my car would be inadmissible in court.

Now, that's the way the law is supposed to work.

I'm not naive enough to think that's how it really works.

The simple truth of the matter is, in this day and age, certain civil liberties are going to have to be forfeited in the name of public safety if we want to be truly safe.

Imagine the 9/11 hijackers using BBM to communicate. The police monitor them and stop the attacks before they happened.

How many people would be complaining about their civill liberties being violated? Hmmm....quite a few, probably. if the attacks were stopped, no one would have been appalled. Ok, so change the scenario to:

just after the 9/11 attacks, police intercept BBM messages planing a follow up attack on 9/13. Would anyone care that the cops/government were monitoring BBM's? (probably. Someone will always complain about things no matter what.)

I'm ok with them scanning the messages from the days of the riots. It's when they randomly stalt snooping that there will be an issue. (no one wants their secret torrid BBM affair with the lonely 90 year old granny down the road to become public)