One of the biggest hurdles of identifying the London rioters is the high level encryption messaging of BlackBerry that they used to mobilize themselves. The government has enlisted security services used to catch terrorists to help track down the looters.

The security service MI5 and the electronic interception centre GCHQ have been asked by the government to join the hunt for people who organised last week’s riots, the Guardian has learned. The agencies, the bulk of whose work normally involves catching terrorists inspired by al-Qaida, are helping the effort to catch people who used social messaging, especially BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), to mobilise looters. A key difficulty for law enforcers last week was cracking the high level of encryption on the BBM system. BBM is a pin-protected instant message system that is only accessible to BlackBerry users. Vickram Dodd, Richard Norton-Taylor, Josh Halliday/The Guardian.

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