07 September 2011

BlackBerry: No special access for SA

East London - Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of the BlackBerry, said on Tuesday it maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements "that does not include special deals for specific countries".

On Monday Deputy Communications Minister Kopeng Obed Bapela called for the decryption of BlackBerry-type messenger services like BBMs amid an increase in cyber-crime.

Speaking at the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (Satnac), the deputy minister said that SA might have to follow Britain and Saudi Arabia for a decryption system if crimes were committed using social messenger services.

His comments followed recent calls by British MPs for a BlackBerry Messenger block following riots in London and other cities.

Bapela assured the audience that government's intention would not be to spy on local citizens. He said the government would aim to tap into this prevention policy once a crime was committed, or potential threats came about.

RIM said: "Like other companies in the technology and telecommunications industry in SA, 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 SA."

The group said that in all other markets where it was present, it worked with government and industry to help ensure that carrier partners were 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," it said.

Lawful access requirements

RIM said there were four core principles for addressing lawful access requirements:
  • The carriers' capabilities must 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.
  • 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.
  • There must be 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 to protect corporate and government communications.
  • RIM maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries.
"I have been assigned the portfolio of cyber-security and wish to invite your kind selves as specialists to assist us determine whether we should regulate applications such as BBM within the context of cyber security," Bapela said. 

Source: http://www.fin24.com/Companies/ICT/Blackberry-No-special-access-for-SA-20110906 

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