The NSW Police Force believe social networking site Facebook helped the youth involved in a riot in western Sydney last week to rally and organise other participants. The youth involved in the riot in Auburn, a suburb of Sydney, were reported to have used Facebook to post derogatory messages about the police, further provoking the development of the riot.
The messages posted on Facebook were in response to the four Auburn households that were raided by the NSW Police Force's Middle Eastern organised crime squad earlier last week.
One of the updates posted on the social networking Web site read "Kefeirs raiding brother's house, everyone get down hier (sic)!!" Reports say that the NSW Police Force believes Kefeirs is a slang Muslim-Arabic term used to describe non-believers.
The Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 prevents the organisation of crime through the use of mobile phones by texting and calling, however it fails to regulate the usage of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“Such technologies as the iPhone didn’t exist in 2002 when the law was written, so the whole issue of mobility wasn’t adhered to," said John Mac Gowan Press Secretary for NSW's Shadow Police Minister Michael Gallagher. "The biggest concern is wireless technologies such as netbooks where someone can be on the side of the street posting messages online.”
According Mac Gowan the NSW Police Force won’t be able to prosecute those who contributed to the online inflammation of the riot as it will be a complex task to identify who directly contributed to the creation of the riot.
“It’s not as simple as prosecuting anyone who sends a message or posts a message online, there needs to be a direct progression from the message in order to be able to prosecute an individual. Singling out individuals at this point would be virtually impossible,” said Mac Gowan.