Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM) said on Monday night that they will be cooperating with a police investigation into claims that the BlackBerry Messenger service played a role in organizing the London riots.
The Scotland Yard vowed to track down and arrest protesters that posted “really inflammatory, inaccurate” messages on the BBM service, Twitter, and Facebook.
RIM’s managing director of regional marketing Patrick Spence confirmed that RIM contacted police to assist with the investigation. BlackBerry users fear that their private messages will be handed to the police as a result of the investigation.
“We feel for those impacted by the riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can,” stated Spence. The BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service was the preferred method of planning the riots.
Although RIM can be legally ordered to hand over details to police of users that is suspected of unlawful activities. However RIM previously insisted that even they cannot unscramble messages on BBM when sent on the devices. A lot of the “broadcasts” were sent instantly from one-to-many BBM users and many of those messages were posted again to Twitter and Facebook.
One of the BBM broadcasts posted on Monday evening had urged protestors to loot in Stratford, Greater London UK. “If you’re down for making money, we’re about to go hard in east london tonight, yes tonight!!” stated one of the messages. “I don’t care what ends you’re from, we’re personally inviting you to come and get it in. Police have taken the piss for too long and to be honest I don’t know why its taken so long for us make this happen. We need a minimum of 200 hungry people. We’re not broke, but who says no to free stuff. Doesn’t matter if the police arrive cos we’ll just chase dem out because as you’ve seen on the news, they are NOT ON DIS TING. Everyone meet at 7 at stratford park and let’s get rich.”
Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh said that the “really inflamatory, inaccurate” messages on Twitter were mainly the reason for the riots. “Social media and other methods have been used to organize these levels of greed and criminality.” The death of Tottenham resident Mark Duggan triggered the riots over the weekend. Duggan’s Facebook tribute page has around 10,000 fans.