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Essex teen charged with using BBM to encourage rioting

18 year old to return to court on September 1

An Essex teenager has become one of the first to be charged for using BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to encourage others to take part in the London riots.

The unnamed 18 year-old girl from Clacton is alleged to have used the messaging service on Monday August 8 to join the looting and rioting. She was charged under the Serious Crime Act 2007 and has been released on bail. She must appear at Colchester Magistrates' Court on September 1.

A 27-year-old man from Southampton has also been charged with using BBM to incite violence during the riots.

Research in Motion (RIM), manufacturers of BlackBerry handsets that offer the messaging function, came under fire this week after it was revealed many involved in the riots had used the service to organise their activities, leading RIM to announce it would "assist the authorities" in helping identify the rioters.

"As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we co-operate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials," Patrick Spence, managing director of global sales and regional marketing at BlackBerry UK, said.

"Similar to other technology providers in the UK we comply with The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and co-operate fully with the Home Office and UK police forces.

However, RIM's statement lead hackers to retaliate by attacking the firm's official BlackBerry Blog, Inside BlackBerry, and posting a message threatening to publish a database containing personal details of RIM employees on the web.

Riots began in Tottenham on Saturday night following a peaceful protest regarding the Police shooting of Mark Duggan. Since then areas of London and now around the country have been subject to "copycat criminal activity" over the past two days according to the Metropolitan Police.

Prime Minister David Cameron revealed yesterday the government is considering stopping communication by BBM and social networks, including Twitter, in a bid to bring an end to the riots.

"We are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality," he said.


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