Mark Collins – Cyber Security? BlackBerry’s “Black Chamber” for Helping Law Enforcement

One wonders how the company’s customers will react to this revelation, especially in comparison with how some American tech companies regard the authorities:

BlackBerry hands over user data to help police ‘kick ass,’ insider says
CBC gets peek into how secretive office answers requests from police around the world

A specialized unit inside mobile firm BlackBerry has for years enthusiastically helped intercept user data — including BBM messages — to help in hundreds of police investigations in dozens of countries, a CBC News investigation reveals.

CBC News has gained a rare glimpse inside the struggling smartphone maker’s Public Safety Operations team, which at one point numbered 15 people, and has long kept its handling of warrants and police requests for taps on user information confidential.

A number of insiders, none of whom were authorized to speak, say that behind the scenes the company has been actively assisting police in a wide range of high profile investigations.

But unlike many other technology companies, which regularly publish transparency reports, it is not clear how many requests BlackBerry receives each year, nor the number of requests it has fulfilled.

Insiders say, for example, that BlackBerry intercepted messages to aid investigators probing the political scandals in Brazil that are dogging suspended President Dilma Rousseff [latest here]. The company also helped authenticate BBM messages in Major League Baseball’s drug investigation that saw New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez suspended in 2014.

BlackBerry CEO tries to reassure users on encryption
Apple’s co-operation with police in Bosma case not unusual

One document obtained by CBC News reveals how the Waterloo, Ont.-based company handles requests for information and co-operates with foreign law enforcement and government agencies, in stark contrast with many other tech companies.

“We were helping law enforcement kick ass,” said one of a number of sources who told CBC News that the company is swamped by requests that come directly from police in dozens of countries…

Lots more. That “Black Chamber”:

Early Days of US SIGINT and Gentlemen Not Reading…With a Canadian Angle

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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