After attempting to promote some wholesome fun with water guns, a 20-year old Essex native was arrested and charged with “encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offense” under a 2007 law called the Serious Crime Act. Essex law enforcement officers claim that the man attempted to incite a flash mob and promoted the event through BlackBerry Messenger as well as a Facebook event page. The man was allegedly encouraging Colchester residents to gather for a city-wide water gun fight. The man was released on bail and has a court date on September 1 to face the charge.
Due to the recent outbreak of riots in Britain, national intelligence agency M15 has been given the task of monitoring cell phone accounts to determine who is using services like BlackBerry Messenger to incite violence or looting. However, Essex hasn’t seen this level of criminal behavior and it’s unclear if monitoring led to the water-related arrest. British Prime Minister David Cameron working with intelligence services to determine if the government should step in and stop people from communicating through social media if future violence is threatened.
A group of Iranian teenagers in central Tehran experienced a similar situation after being arrested for participating in a water pistol fight at a park. The group had promoted the event through Facebook as well. The students were arrested by the morality police, but released on bail two days later. The group is expected to be charged with publicly committing an act against Islam as well as insulting police officers.
While people in England argue over the right to monitor cell phone usage, citizens of the United States are having a similar discussion after the Bay Area Rapid Transit in San Francisco shut down wireless access and cell phone service for three hours. Police requested the shutdown based off a tip that a demonstration would be held to protest the July 3 shooting of a homeless man. However, the demonstration never materialized during that time.