BlackBerry bangs final nail in coffin, lets Mounties hack you

BlackBerry CEO John Chen argues it's OK to give key to RCMP. But his statement raises more questions than answers.

BlackBerry RCMP

BlackBerry gave away its global encryption key to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. That's the general analysis from dissecting CEO John Chen's vapid statement yesterday.

[Developing story. Updated 4:35 am PT with more comment]

Perhaps it's true that all Canadian Policemen and women are blameless souls who can be totally trusted not to abuse such great powers. But what about other countries? And the confusion does nothing for the trust that customers have in BlackBerry.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers read the last rites to TSE:BB/NASDAQ:BBRY. Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

What’s the craic? The CBC reports—BlackBerry CEO tries to reassure users:

Chen wants to assure users that [BlackBerry] "stood by our lawful access principles," [in] response to an article...about Project Clemenza, an RCMP investigation into a Mafia slaying. ... The RCMP described [an] "interception and processing system." ... Such a "global" decryption key [could] decrypt messages sent between consumer BlackBerry[s].

Wait, BlackBerry gave the Canadian Police its global key? Are you serious? Jordan Pearson says there are more questions than answers—BlackBerry Won't Confirm or Deny:

Last week, [we] revealed that [RCMP] are in possession of the “global encryption key”. ... John Chen published a blog post...addressing the report in...very broad strokes.

BlackBerry’s lawful access principles are extremely broad. ... The key in the RCMP’s possession does not target [BES. But] regular folks are being left...without adequate protection from snooping cops.

Here's the horse's mouth. John Chen argues it's about Doing What’s Right:

Tech companies...should comply with reasonable lawful access requests. ... We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good.

[Clemenza] resulted in a major criminal organization being dismantled. ... There is a balance between...helping to apprehend criminals, and...invading citizen’s privacy. ... We have been able to find this balance. ... Our position has been unwavering.

Who made BlackBerry arbiter of "the greater good"? This was Joe Friday on Monday:

It's not up to...Chen to decide what's right. [These] actions are a breach

If the police [had] a lawful search warrant, I have no issue with [BlackBerry] complying with...the warrant. [But it] gave away...customers' privacy rights without their consent.

What a polite rant. But Dave feels more strongly:

If the RCMP has a copy of the key(s), who else does? ... What gives BlackBerry the right to play God?

John, you're still on the wrong side of the argument. ... You're putting your corporate ethics before your customers.

You might be accusing Apple of...a PR stunt, but it's sell out your customers. ... Pot meet Kettle.

What an ironic PR own-goal. Spandas Lui says We Should Have Seen This Coming:

In a time providers are eager to prove...their users’ privacy, [this] couldn’t have come at a worse time. ... There are concerns that [letting] law encrypted messages could be abused.

If you’re sending and receiving BBM...through BlackBerry’s servers, that...key could be used to read those messages. ... It is possible BlackBerry has handed over the...key to governments...around the world.

“For the greater good.” I’ve heard that one before. ... I’m not entirely sure I’m convinced. ... I’m certainly not comfortable with it. ... This is another blow to the beleaguered BlackBerry brand.

Update: It gets worse. Listen to Patrick Beja blame Canada, and weep:

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or
Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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