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Cameron sought internet shutdown during summer riots

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By John Glenday, Reporter

November 2, 2011 | 2 min read

Prime Minister David Cameron was on the brink of shutting down Britain’s internet services during last summer’s rioting it has emerged.

During a then meeting of COBRA, the government’s crisis committee, Cameron made the suggestion after rioting spread to regional cities in England - but was forced to reconsider when Foreign Secretary William Hague pointed out that such a move would bolster repressive regimes such as China and Syria which employ such tactics themselves.

The desperate measure to quell the disorder was cited by John Kampfner, chief executive of free speech lobbyists Censorship.

Hague noted that in the end the chaos subsided without the need for such recourse, an opinion articulated at todays Cybersecurity conference in London, where he said: “We reject the view that government suppression of internet, phone networks and social media at times of unrest is acceptable."

"We saw in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya that cutting off the internet, blocking Facebook, jamming Al Jazeera, intimidating journalists and imprisoning bloggers does not create stability or make grievances go away. Journalists and bloggers must be allowed to express themselves freely and safely and within international standards.”

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