RIM's BlackBerry jam

Robert Clark
10 Aug 2010

If you’ve been scratching your head about the apparently sudden desire of governments to make BlackBerrys open to official eavesdropping, some recent FT reporting might throw some light on what’s triggered the standoff.


In a story that has spread well beyond the tech blogosphere, the Saudi, Gulf, Indian and Lebanese authorities have threatened to ban the well-encrypted device unless RIM makes it accessible to local agencies.


RIM’s defense has been threefold: these people don’t understand how BlackBerry works; that it doesn’t have a master encryption key; and that it would never compromise on its promise to keep customer’s data secure.


It probably has a point with the first and is irrelevantly correct on the second - but it appears outright misleading on the third.


OK, this is a topic that dwells beyond the regular boundaries of corporate transparency, so a little conjecture is called for here.


But whereas RIM stoutly denied that it had offered a deal with Indian security agencies to allow them to listen in on email or IM conversations via locally-installed proxy servers, it has reportedly struck exactly that deal with Saudi authorities.


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