BlackBerry, defending itself against the RCMP decryption claims, has released a statement saying its focus has always been on protecting the privacy of its customers. Through this, it has tried to defend its core corporate and ethical principles.
BlackBerry maintains a balance
BlackBerry CEO John Chen highlighted that doing what is right for customers within legal and ethical boundaries has been the company’s guiding principle.
“We have long been clear in our stance that tech companies as good corporate citizens should comply with reasonable lawful access requests. I have stated before that we are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good,” Chen said in a blog post.
Recently it was reported that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) got hold of BlackBerry’s master encryption key and used it to intercept and decrypt about 1 million messages sent using BlackBerry’s proprietary messaging technology.
It was revealed in court documents relating to a Montreal crime syndicate case, that law enforcement received complete cooperation from BlackBerry and cellular network Rogers. It is not known for now how the RCMP succeeded at gaining access to BlackBerry’s encryption key, but it is believed that the Canadian firm “facilitated the interception process.”
For a long time, it has been known that BlackBerry uses a master encryption key on all its devices to scramble messages. With the help of this key, the company is able to gain access to all communications sent over its systems and also hand over data to law enforcement when asked.
Chen cited the Pakistan example
Talking about BlackBerry’s assistance, Chen reaffirmed that the company stood by its lawful access principles. At the same time, he highlighted the fact that Pakistan was recently denied access to the company’s servers. The Pakistani government asked the Canadian firm to hand over unfettered private information of its enterprise customers.
“For BlackBerry, there is a balance between doing what’s right, such as helping to apprehend criminals, and preventing government abuse of invading citizen’s privacy, including when we refused to give Pakistan access to our servers,” Chen said.
BlackBerry’s chief operating officer, Marty Beard, refused to do so and said the company would prefer to leave the country. After this incident, the company was supposed to exit the Pakistani market at the end of last year. But as a result of talks between the Pakistani government and the Canadian firm, BlackBerry dropped its decision to exit Pakistan.
Such an uproar on BlackBerry’s case has been highlighted due to the recent Apple vs. FBI tiff, in which the iPhone maker refused to assist the agency in unlocking the iPhone of a terrorist involved in the San Bernardino incident.