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Blackberry’s Dilemma

Published by on Aug 5th, 2010, 1 Comment

You might have heard by now that Blackberry’s in the UAE will be banned soon if they do not open up their encryption of their BIS servers to the government – well that is the simple explanation, and there is rumours that a few other countries are also wanting to do the same.  They say this is for security reasons, but naturally there are some high profile people out there who do not want their communication to be opened up to governments.

But one should also understand the reason why these governments want – just like South Africa is currently implementing RICA in order to keep track of cellphone users, there are many security reasons for this. Police would like to be able to keep track of certain people or use electronic communication as evidence in court, and I am all for it.

It is for this very reason that I dont know whether RIM’s CEO, Mike Lazaridis, is brave or foolish. In a recent interview with Wallstreet Journal, he says these issues comes down to governments “not understanding the reality of the internet”. He mentions that “everything on the internet is encrypted, this not a Blackberry only issue”. This is of course very true, and I agree that many governments not understanding the internet. Hell, just look at SA.

And then finally he stated – “if they can’t deal with the internet, they should shut it off”. I dont know if he refers here to the internet or Blackberrys, but its a pretty brash statement.

I really hope Blackberry sorts this out, because I have a feeling that more governments will start asking similiar questions. This is a difficult situation for Blackberry – on the one hand they should open up their servers so that governments can access communication logs, and in that way the phones wont be banned, keeping Blackberry clients happy.

On the other hand, if they do open up their records, some Blackberry clients will suddenly feel that their communication is insecure – something that Blackberry has always emphasized in the past.

Lets see how this one plays out.

Comments

  • Anon

    The issue here is one of privacy. As was mentioned, encryption is used throughout the web and telecoms in general, so this has nothing to do with Blackberry per se, but more likely the govt needs to monitor someone using their service and can’t gain access. This is an issue to watch closely because if Blackberry gives in, it could well open the flood gates for any instances of encryption to be compromised at the whim of a government. If the company can handle the loss of market share in the short to mid-term and show they won’t be bullied, it will increase brand integrity and may well strengthen sales in future as a result.

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