In August this year, the Manchester police in the UK tweeted the names and birth dates of people who have been convicted in relation to the UK riots. Yesterday, the Metropolitan Police Service in London published photos on its official Flickr page of 64 people who had been convicted for offences during the riots. Details of the convicted include name, birth date, street/location, offence and sentence. Among them for example, an 18-year old that was sentenced to five years and ten months for violent disorder, robbery and burglary.
The photos on Flickr are published with a Creative Commons license so that anyone is allowed to share and use the images.
I find this practice to be an appalling abuse of power and I hope it doesn’t spread to other parts of law enforcement. Police in Stockholm have announced they will increase its focus on social media in 2012, but I strongly believe they are more sensible than the police in the UK.
Hat tip to Neville Hobson for the link to this story.
There’s been a lot of talk about the use of social media during the UK riots, both for good (see #riotcleanup) and for bad purposes. Additional focus was added today when PM David Cameron discussed the possibilities of limiting the use of social media in times of social unrest. It has been interesting to study how for example the UK police have used channels like Flickr and Twitter to get help with identification of suspects. Now, however, it seems that the Greater Manchester police might have taken the use of social media one step too far.
Today, the Greater Manchester police started to tweet the names and birth dates of people who have been convicted in relation to the UK riots.
After this tweet, the @gmpolice Twitter account has published dozens of tweets this evening with the names, birth dates and crimes the people have been convicted for. Like this one below (I have masked the name of the individual).
Many of these tweets have been retweeted by hundreds of users on Twitter which spreads their names to a very wide audience. This has already created a lot of negative reactions, like the following tweet.
I can only agree with @iamminihorse, there is a huge difference between names being in the public domain and publishing them on a platform like Twitter where people can easily share them with potentially thousands of others. These things have a tendency to get out of hand and will the Manchester police take any responsibility in case some people will try to take revenge on the convicted people or their families? No, this was a bad idea from the very start.
Free speach in Finland is under attack. Jani Uusitalo, a Finnish blogger was contacted by the Finnish police with a cease and desist letter which demanded he removed information from his blog about events at the elementary school of Korivaara. Uusitalo wrote about the headmaster of the local school who supposedly gave fundamentalist religious schooling to kids in the elementary grades (3-4). The headmaster contacted the police who demanded the information to be taken off the blog, which should be unconstitutional, only a court can order web pages to be shut down
Visit his blog for the full story in English. (Hat tip to Phil.)