Violence and disorder in London and British towns has been mounting following a fourth night of rioting, and many are saying the extensiveness of civil aggression is largely due to the use of BlackBerry Messenger.
Police officials believe that most protesters have been using the smart phones to plan and coordinate the riots. Research in Motion (RIM), BlackBerry’s parent company, told police they would cooperate and help in the investigations.
Patrick Spence, the managing director at RIM said the company would potentially hand over the instant messages that rioters using BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) sent, wrote the Guardian. RIM posted this statement to the Inside BlackBerry Blog upon agreeing to aid the police:
“We feel for those impacted by this weekend’s riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can. As in all markets around the world Where BlackBerry is available, we cooperate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials.”
TeaMpOisoN, the hackers that broke into the blog site, left a warning message of their own:
“If you do assist the police by giving them chat logs, gps locations, customer information & access to peoples BlackBerryMessengers you will regret it, we have access to your database which includes your employees information; we_WILL_make this information public and pass it onto rioters…”
Investigators say that much of the violence was organized using social media and BBM. According to officials they are working on finding the riot instigators, but BBM messages are encrypted and so are more difficult to trace.
“Given the ease and anonymity with which these attacks can be conducted and the jurisdiction issues, it is likely that the bad guys will remain in the driver’s seat for the foreseeable future,” John D’Arcy, an assistant professor of information technology management at the University of Notre Dame, told ABC News.
The shooting of Mark Duggan, an alleged drug dealer, by police spurred the outbreak of the worst violence London has seen in over thirty years.
The rioting claimed its first victim Tuesday, when a 26-year-old man who was shot in south London’s Croydon district, died in the hospital. Police say the circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear.
After four nights of violence, over 16,000 police officers are combing through London where shops and buildings were being looted and set on fire.
Investigators say that over 1,000 people have been arrested across London since the start of the riots.