“This was a dialogue about working together to keep people safe rather than about imposing new restrictions on Internet services,” a Facebook representative said in a statement.
Prime Minister David Cameron gave a reason to fear otherwise when, following riots that swept through the UK earlier this month, he told Parliament that the government was examining whether to ban suspected troublemakers from social media.
In anticipation of the meeting between UK officials and representatives of Twitter, Facebook and RIM — all of which make tools that were used by some to coordinate violence during the riots — human rights groups wrote an open letter to the British Home Secretary regarding Cameron’s comments.
Although fears that the UK would create restrictions on social media were dispelled, there was some conversation about how law enforcement might gain more access to information shared on social networks and between BlackBerry devices.
Gordon Scobbie, a senior police officer who leads the force’s social media efforts and attended the meeting, told the New York Times that Twitter, for example, might consider compelling people to use their real names instead of anonymous handles and that RIM has already agreed to provide the police with information from BlackBerry Messenger under some circumstances.
“When people use a telephone, under certain circumstances, law enforcement has a means of intercepting that,” he told The Times. “Just because it’s different media, we shouldn’t stand back and say, ‘We don’t play in that space.’ ”