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BlackBerry CEO attacks Apple in encryption debate blog post
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Dec 17, 2015, 10:44 AM
 
The CEO of BlackBerry has attacked Apple for its policy over resisting requests from law enforcement to bypass protections on its devices. In a blog post, CEO John Chen simultaneously asserts that legitimate users need to have more protection, at the same time as claiming to "reject the notion that tech companies should refuse reasonable, lawful access requests" to data that can potentially put someone in prison.

Chen initially starts by noting the requests by law enforcement officials and those in government to force tech companies to provide data from potential criminals, and the stance of privacy advocates and tech companies for stronger data protection mechanisms. Highlighting Apple's recent courtroom appearance where it was requested to unlock an iPhone 5s owned by a defendant in a drug-related case, Chen latches on to Apple's argument that doing so would "substantially tarnish the brand," before proclaiming "We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good."

BlackBerry CEO John Chen
BlackBerry CEO John Chen


Seemingly trying to suggest BlackBerry is more nuanced in its security policies, Chen claims "we understand, arguably more than any other large tech company, the importance of our privacy commitment to product success and brand value: privacy and security form the crux of everything we do. However, our privacy commitment does not extend to criminals."

After insisting companies have the same responsibility to try and thwart crime as an individual, "within legal and ethical boundaries," Chen admits "it is also true that corporations must reject attempts by federal agencies to overstep." BlackBerry refuses to add backdoors to its services, Chen insists, along with the claim it has never "allowed government access to our servers," and that it has exited the market in certain countries "when the jurisdictional authorities demand access that would abuse the privacy of law-abiding citizens."

Chen goes on to claim the smartphone manufacturer rejects the banning or disabling of encryption, as it wouldn't stop criminals from writing their own apps and have better encryption tools than law-abiding citizens, however there may be a middle ground. The developers of Telegram are noted to have shut down criminal channels without affecting the privacy of any other messaging app users, with Chen citing this as an example of aiding law enforcement correctly.

"It's time both sides of this encryption debate accept that pointing fingers is counterproductive," concludes Chen. "Technology, over the course of human existence, can be both used and abused. We all have a right to privacy as well as public protection. We must balance these, and the world's tech leaders must help consumers and governments alike make informed decisions."
     
climacs
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Dec 17, 2015, 10:53 AM
 
Blackberry who? Not really sure what exactly he's trying to say here other than "pay attention to us, we still exist you know." Apple has not refused any "reasonable, lawful request".
     
mindwaves
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Dec 17, 2015, 11:03 AM
 
Wow, that guy has made so many mistakes in his job at BB, including this one. The previous one is admitting BB will go out of the hardware business if their new phone doesn't pan out. You should not admit to your customers that you may go out of business because the customers won't buy your phones if they know the company has no future!
{{{ mindwaves }}}
     
azrich
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Dec 17, 2015, 11:23 AM
 
His comments sound naive to me. Which is ironic coming from me (having never been in a tech company but spent 18 years in law enforcement).

This also sounds to me like he's saying 'all we do is secure communication, and if anyone in LE asks we'll stop doing that.'

Perhaps he's trying to make the point that BB can un-encrypt data that Apple et al say they can not? It's one thing to say 'get a warrant' but from what I've read Apple is saying they can't give you the data you want even with a warrant for technical reasons.

Whatever the point he's making, it sounds strange to me.
     
sunman42
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Dec 17, 2015, 01:07 PM
 
Read this as corporate cover-my-posterior. Blackberry gave up encryption keys some years back to India, when the government there complained the encrypted comms were making it possible for terrorists to communicate unimpeded. Who knows what else the government there may use that ability for?
     
Charles Martin
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Dec 17, 2015, 02:18 PM
 
What a gift the BlackBerry CEO has given us: conceding that Apple is the clear leader in protecting users' privacy from government overreach and hackery.
Charles Martin
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coffeetime
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Dec 17, 2015, 02:44 PM
 
Just another meaningless PR stunt. BB stands for blah blah, blah blah blah.
     
chimaera
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Dec 17, 2015, 03:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by Charles Martin View Post
What a gift the BlackBerry CEO has given us: conceding that Apple is the clear leader in protecting users' privacy from government overreach and hackery.
I agree. Can't tell exactly what he's saying, but it sounds like "We encrypt too, but unlike Apple, we'll only defend customers that we know and like."
     
mytdave
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Dec 17, 2015, 05:29 PM
 
Simple. BlackBerry wrong, Apple right. It has nothing to do with who the companies are, it's the attitude about encryption & back doors... Governments have already proven without any doubt they are not to be trusted, which makes BlackBerry's CEO wrong on this issue.
"One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad
"Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer" - Adolf Hitler
     
SierraDragon
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Dec 18, 2015, 09:04 AM
 
"reject the notion that tech companies should refuse reasonable, lawful access requests" is just wrong. Because it means that some law enforcement officer and some Blackberry employee are secretly deciding what is reasonable and lawful. Only a court order obtained through due process should make that determination.
     
Steve Wilkinson
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Dec 19, 2015, 12:19 AM
 
It's called a back-door... and it shouldn't exist. If you trust the government more than that 'bad-guys,' you don't know the government very well.
------
Steve Wilkinson
Web designer | Christian apologist
cgWerks | TilledSoil.org
     
   
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