BlackBerry BBM Helps Expose A Corruption Scandal In Brazil

BlackBerry’s messenger app played a crucial role in bringing to light a corruption case in Brazil. The country’s law enforcement agencies analyzed messages sent over BBM to uncover fraud committed against the country’s oil giant Petrobras, says a report from The Wall Street Journal.

BlackBerry BBM exposed alleged graft ring

The investigation, which was carried out under the code name Operation Car Wash, jolted the very foundations of the oil firm and the country’s political administration. According to The Wall Street journal, almost a hundred people have been found guilty, and 50 politicians were investigated regarding the matter. And this was made possible, for the most part, by access to conversations on BlackBerry messenger.

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Public prosecutors have accused executives of the country’s largest construction companies and some Petrobras employees of stealing thousands of dollars from the oil company by augmenting contracts and laundering money to politicians and financing campaigns. Along with Messenger records, the prosecutors have employed confessions by the company’s close associates to press charges against the perpetrators.

In an attempt to investigate, a digital snooping probe was operated, aided by BlackBerry Messenger according to the federal prosecutor, who stated that BBM was “one of the reasons for the success of the case.” After having search warrants and the proper authorizations, prosecutors scanned thousands of relevant messages shared and, using them, managed to establish connections between the alleged money launderers and their alleged partners in crime.

Does this raise privacy concern?

In a BBM thread, two men going by the usernames L.A. and Primo were found to have exchanged words about the cash-pickups and bank transfers regarding an undisclosed deal. L.A. has been claimed to be Luiz Argôlo, a former congressman, and Primo was revealed as Alberto Youssef by those who indicted him.

However, such probing by the police and prosecutors into BBM chats has raised concerns about the privacy policy of BlackBerry, especially considering that the company treats its data as a very confidential entity. BlackBerry has not said anything on the issue, but it would be safe to assume that the company is trying to find a compromise between “privacy” and “lawful access assistance.”