Blackberry would close UK service in unrest if ordered

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Reuters

(London) – BlackBerry said on Thursday it would close down its hugely popular messenger service in Britain if ordered to at times of civil unrest, after police singled out the system as a key tool used in last month’s riots.

Appearing before politicians investigating the large-scale disorder that swept Britain in early August, executive Stephen Bates of Blackberry-owner Research in Motion said the company would comply with orders given in special circumstances such as threats of terrorism or mass criminality.

“From our perspective we comply with the law and if the instruction … would be to close down the mobile networks which is the method by which that would be enacted, we would then comply, we would then work with those mobile operators to help them meet the obligations as defined by that act,” Bates said.

Police and parliamentarians said at the time of the unrest that social media, in particular Blackberry Messenger (BBM), had been used by rioters and looters to incite and coordinate violence.

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