Alright folks, here’s your homework: read this, and then check back here.
Done? Ok. Here’s my diatribe for the day. Everyone must understand the ramifications of not having free speech, correct? We’ve been indoctrinated with these ideas since our early childhood, and most of these ideas are correct. It’s free speech that has freed quite a few countries from their tyrannical overlords, and it’s free speech that allows me to write this very document. As someone who has studied and read a lot of things, some of which the world might find very unsavory, I appreciate their existence and would like it to continue.
However, it seems that every conservative government in existence would like to keep us incredibly stupid and naive, and that’s a shame, really, because an educated public in a fair democracy leads to the production of some great ideas and practical applications of those ideas (Look long and hard at the monitor you’re reading this on, or the phone you have in your hand at the moment, and you’ll understand this). The point that I’m trying to make here is that the British government is commiting an atrocity on its own people, that being to threaten the restriction of their free speech for their own protection.
The consideration this idea has recieved is enough to scare me, but it’s not just the idea of censorship and restriction of speech. That right is a fundamental one, and it has been proven time and time again that censorship doesn’t work. In this particular case, the PM posits that social media is to blame for the organization of the rioters in London, and therefore having the ability to unilaterally cut their access to these services is something to be desired by the government. The article also cites that BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), an encrypted messaging service, helped the rioters and asked Research in Motion to help them censor and monitor those posts, as well.
Here’s the problem: it’ll never work, no matter how safe it makes David Cameron and the British public feel. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, BlackBerry Messenger, the future iOS application iMessage, AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) rooms, Usenet, imageboards, vBulletin, and yes, even good old email, are all currently available methods, both from a desktop platform and a mobile platform. Even if we censor them all, there is no guarantee that these people will use these services, or that a suitable alternative might be used in their stead. Ultimately, people wanting to do bad things desperately enough will find a solution that fits them. It’s a diverse world, and there have been a lot of solutions designed.
Considering this, what good can Prime Minister Cameron hope to do by censoring these public outlets? None at all. In fact, the free exchange of information can be used for the betterment of society; in this case, Twitter might have been used to organize an attack, but people might be able to use these services to warn others about locations in particular danger, or otherwise assist a frightened public.
I affirm freedom of speech, to everyone, for everyone, at every time. That remains our most important freedom, and I hope that those of you in Britain work against any bans. Take your example from America: we traded our freedoms for security and have neither. Don’t follow us on this one, trust me.