BlackBerry defends giving police access to phone messages
OREANDA-NEWS. April 19, 2016. When it came time to help the Royal Mounted Canadian Police take down an organized crime ring, BlackBerry was game.
According to reports from Vice, the Canadian phone helped police access BlackBerry messages with a key that decrypts, or unscrambles, communications sent from one phone to another. It's essentially the encryption backdoor that companies like Apple have said over and over in court that they don't want to create.
"The case resulted in a major criminal organization being dismantled," said John Chen, BlackBerry's CEO and executive chairman in a blog post published Monday. "Regarding BlackBerry's assistance, I can reaffirm that we stood by our lawful access principles."
BlackBerry declined to comment further when asked to confirm Vice's account of its participation in the law enforcement investigation, including whether police still have access to the backdoor it reportedly used to intercept and decrypt incriminating messages. Vice reported that backdoor could affect millions of phones.
Messages sent from corporate cell phones can't be decrypted, Chen added. Those phones are connected to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which Chen called "impenetrable."
Apple has insisted that creating universal workarounds to its phones' encryption would make all its users vulnerable to hacking. Critics, including the US Department of Justice, have said Apple is spinning the contentious issue of encryption into marketing for its products. Chen seemed to echo these sentiments in his blog post.
"I have stated before that we are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good," he said.