Talks held by the UK Home Office  over the summer with Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry manufacturer  Research in Motion were originally said to be about web blocking, but altered to be merely ‘constructive discussions’.  What was really going on? Did the Home Office really do a U-turn as was reported?

 My take on this is a little different, and based on the

policy briefs held by UK government departments. The Home office brief concerns interception, but does not extend to regulating the communications networks. the Home Office  would have to work with the relevant department if it had a requirement concerning communications.

DCMS is responsible for telecommunications but it delegates most of the policy-making to our industry-cuddly regulator Ofcom.

 The brief for web blocking belongs with DCMS / Ofcom. As discussed in my other article, Ofcom is working hard on web blocking measures. It is very likely that behind the glass windows in their respective buildings either side of the river Thames, a decision was taken to leave web blocking to Ofcom. Allowing the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to say honestly that she did not want to discuss web blocking.

 But I expect she will have asked RIM to make Blackberry Messenger interceptible.

GSM mobile phones originally could not be intercepted, but they can be now and in that sense Blackberry would only be following in the footsteps of other technologies.


PLEASE CITE AS: Monica Horten (2011) Why the Home Office won't block the web 1 September 2011 . This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License for  non-commercial purposes, with the author attributed.