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Lockdown

In case you haven't noticed, everyone in the world seems to have a theory as to the reasons for the riots in London and a bit elsewhere last week. He blames the schools! She blames the parents! Someone else blames the Government's cuts! Someone else, the welfare state!

There's one scapegoat, though, everyone can agree on: social media. It's generally accepted that social media, and particularly BlackBerry Messenger, helped organise last week's disturbances and meant they spread far faster than they would have otherwise.

So it's probably inevitable that the Government, in its determination to look like it's on top of things in the riot-prevention department, is looking at ways to crack down on social media to prevent such disturbances happening again.

There's two things the Government wants. One is to be able to track down who's posting riot-related material on sites. That's pretty easy on Facebook, which uses people's real names, but hard on Twitter, which doesn't - and nearly impossible on BBM, on which messages are private and encrypted so even the police can't see them.

Second - and more controversial - the government wants the power to temporarily block access to social networks during times of civil disturbance. A 'time out' of one or two hours could be imposed during times of chaos.

The proposals have been met with a lot of angst on Twitter and from free speech organisations. Index of Censorship called it a 'bizarre and kind of knee-jerk reaction.' But what do you think, readers?

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