Research In Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry range of mobile devices, has offered assistance to British authorities via its Twitter account. International media has made note of the widespread use of BlackBerry Messenger to communicate and coordinate attacks in the London riots, and the ability to instantaneously transmit messages for free has proved to be a key weapon in the ongoing violence.
The British division of RIM, speaking on its Twitter account, stated:
We feel for those impacted by the riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.
The Guardian's Paul Lewis, who has been reporting on scenes from around London, has received samples of messages being circulated by rioters. One of them reads:
Everyone in edmonton enfield woodgreen everywhere in north link up at enfield town station 4 o clock sharp!!!! Start leaving ur yards n linking up with you niggas. Guck da feds, bring your ballys and your bags trollys, cars vans, hammers the lot!! Keep sending this around to bare man, make sure no snitch boys get dis!!! What ever ends your from put your ballys on link up and cause havic, just rob everything. Police can't stop it. Dead the fires though!! Rebroadcast!!!!!
Civil unrest has gripped the capital since the death of Mark Duggan sparked a wave of antisocial behaviour. What began initially as a peaceful protest turned violent three days ago, and has begun to spread outside London to cities such as Birmingham, Nottingham, and Bristol. British news outlets have cited Facebook and Twitter as other means of spreading messages, but the companies have yet to make a statement on their role in investigations.
The move by RIM will not be the first time the company has attempted to cooperate with local authorities. In August last year, RIM came to an agreement with the Saudi Arabian government, giving them access to BlackBerry Messages. The move stopped Saudi Arabia from blocking the device from being sold in the country. Similar negotiations have been made with India and the United Arab Emirates.