British government disputes reports that it rejected BlackBerry 10 for security reasons

BB10 'likely to represent viable solution,' UK security group says in response to Guardian story

A British government security group said Wednesday that it hasn't yet evaluated the security of BlackBerry 10 devices such as the Z10.

The UK Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG) statement was issued following a report Tuesday in the Guardian newspaper that it had rejected the BB10 and its Balance software over security worries.

In a statement on its Web site, the CESG concluded that its security history with BlackBerry "gives us confidence that the BlackBerry 10 platform is likely to represent a viable solution for the UK government."

The CESG didn't reference the Guardian directly but said it issued the statement following press reporting about the security of the BlackBerry 10 platform. The Guardian report, first published late Tuesday EDT, was headlined, "BlackBerry software ruled not safe enough for essential government work ... CESG rejects BB10 software in new Z10 handset, dealing blow to Canadian firm in key market."

BlackBerry quickly called press reports that the BB10 had been rejected as "false and misleading."

In a statement emailed by a spokeswoman, BlackBerry said the BB10 had already won a vital security clearance from the U.S. government for FIPS 140-2 certification and had been picked by the German Procurement Office and Federal Office for Information Security.

The full CESG statement, BlackBerry 10 in Government, follows:

"Following press reporting on 20 March 2013 about the security the BlackBerry 10 platform, CESG has issued the following statement:

"Discussions with BlackBerry are ongoing about the use of the BlackBerry 10 platform in government. We have not yet performed an evaluation of the security of the platform, but we expect to be issuing Platform Guidance in the summer. This will cover a number of platforms, including BlackBerry 10 (and the use of 'Balance').

"We have a long-standing security partnership with BlackBerry and this gives us confidence that the BlackBerry 10 platform is likely to represent a viable solution for UK government."

The full emailed statement from BlackBerry follows:

"Media reports alleging that BlackBerry 10 has been 'rejected' for U.K. government use are both false and misleading.

" BlackBerry has a long-established relationship with CESG and we remain the only mobile solution approved for use at 'Restricted' when configured in accordance with CESG guidelines. This level of approval only comes following a process which is rigorous and absolutely necessary given the highly confidential nature of the communications being transmitted. The current re-structuring of this approval process, due to the Government Protective Marking Scheme review and the new CESG Commercial Product Assurance scheme has an impact on the timeline for BlackBerry 10 to receive a similar level of approval.

"The U.S. government's FIPS 140-2 certification of BlackBerry 10 and the selection of BlackBerry 10 by the German Procurement Office and Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) underline how our new platform continues to set the standard for government communications.

"We are continuing to work closely with CESG on the approval of BlackBerry 10 and we're confident that BlackBerry 10 will only strengthen our position as the mobile solution of choice for the U.K. government."

The Z10 has been on sale in the UK since last month and goes on sale in the U.S. on Friday friom AT&T and a week later from Verizon Wireless.

T-Mobile has said it is fulfilling orders for the Z10 from businesses, while Sprint said it will carry the Z10's cousin, the qwerty Q10, at a future date.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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