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RIM won’t hide BBM from cops

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A Government minister has threatened a law to give police access to BlackBerry Messenger. But the company behind BBM already cooperates with authorities. Here is Research in Motion’s formal policy.

South Africa’s deputy minister of communications Obed Bapela inspired a storm of controversy when he suggested a law to allow police access to BBM (BlackBerry Messenger). However, the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act (Rica) already covers such enrypted services. And BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion already cooperates with authorities. Here is their formal position:

Like other companies in the technology and telecommunications industry in South Africa, RIM complies with privacy laws as well as The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA). We will continue to work cooperatively with all the appropriate authorities in South Africa.

In all other markets where we are present, RIM works with government and industry to help ensure that our carrier partners are able to comply with local regulations and requirements.

Lawful Access is a common requirement in countries around the world. We adhere to our Lawful Access Principles in order to balance the legitimate privacy requirements of customers with the legitimate requirements of law enforcement agencies and regulators.

RIM’s Core Principles for Addressing Lawful Access Requirements

These four core principles outline RIM’s approach to providing carriers around the world with the capabilities necessary to address lawful access requirements in their respective countries and include the following:

1) The carriers’ capabilities be limited to the strict context of lawful access and national security requirements as governed by the country’s judicial oversight and rules of law.

2) The carriers’ capabilities must be technology and vendor neutral, allowing no greater access to BlackBerry consumer services than the carriers and regulators already impose on RIM’s competitors and other similar communications technology companies.

3) No changes to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers since, contrary to any rumours, the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers’ encryption keys. Also driving RIM’s position is the fact that strong encryption is a fundamental commercial requirement for any country to attract and maintain international business anyway and similarly strong encryption is currently used pervasively in traditional VPNs on both wired and wireless networks in order to protect corporate and government communications.

4) RIM maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries.

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