RIM called on to take BlackBerry Messenger offline in wake of riots

Voices are calling on RIM to take its instant messaging service, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), offline to prevent rioters in the UK from communicating with each other.

Many looters have said their attacks have been coordinated with the help of BBM, which has been promoted on media and publications aimed at the 16-24 year old market all year.

Unlike Twitter and Facebook, BBM is a closed, encrypted network, so the police are unable to see what is being communicated on the messaging service.

David Lammy, Member of Parliament for Tottenham, where the rioting first broke out in response to the shooting of Mark Duggan, said RIM should be doing more.

On Twitter yesterday, he stated: “Just been on 5Live [radio station BBC Radio 5 Live] asking BB to consider suspending their messaging service this evening…”

Speaking about BBM, he Tweeted: “…Clear this is one of reasons why unsophisticated criminals are outfoxing an otherwise sophisticated Police force.”

He then said: “Immediate action needed. LDNers cannot have another evening like last night tonight. BBM clearly helping rioters outfox Police. Suspend it.”

RIM’s Patrick Spence, managing director, global sales and regional marketing, stated: “We feel for those impacted by this weekend’s riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.

“As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we cooperate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials. Similar to other technology providers in the UK, we comply with The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and co-operate fully with the Home Office and UK police forces,” Spence concluded.

However, the service is still online. RIM is not commenting further at this time.

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