RIM pledges to trace UK rioters

Michael Carroll
10 Aug 2011

RIM is promising to do all it can to help UK police track down rioters, following three nights of violence in London and other major cities.

The Canadian smartphone maker has been implicated by several media outlets after its BlackBerry Messenger service was used to help organize riots and looting, alongside Facebook and Twitter.

“We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can,” Patrick Spence, managing director of global sales and regional marketing stated in an e-mail. “As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we cooperate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials.”

While the pledge runs the risk of infuriating authorities in India, which are under pressure from the government to stop stalling on forcing the device-maker to offer unencrypted access to messages, the UK assistance would not require the firm to decrypt, according to ZDNet. Instead the firm is likely to hand over details of traffic patterns that the police can use to trace individual devices involved in inciting the violence via the user’s service provider.

Spence confirmed the firm is obliged to provide the information to the police as part of its compliance with the UK’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act – the same act that requires network operators to cough up user’s details.

RIM’s messaging service is being targeted by authorities because the firm’s devices are more popular among UK teens than Apple’s iPhone, and because of the encryption used in messages sent on the service, The Guardian notes.

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