BlackBerry CEO calls Canadian police deal an “old story” and says it is right to comply with legal government requests
John Chen has defended BlackBerry against recent claims that the company built special backdoors into its devices to be accessed by law enforcement agencies.
The BlackBerry chief published a response to allegations made last week that the company collaborated with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to allow the latter to snoop on the messages of suspected criminals.
Calling the development, “an old case that recently resurfaced in the news”, Chen reaffirmed that BlackBerry’s assistance played a key role in “dismantling” a major criminal organisation.
“Regarding BlackBerry’s assistance, I can reaffirm that we stood by our lawful access principles,” Chen said
“When it comes to doing the right thing in difficult situations, BlackBerry’s guiding principle has been to do what is right for the citizenry, within legal and ethical boundaries.”
According to the investigation by Vice, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were able to decrypt messages sent between BlackBerry devices on its BBM messaging service between 2010 and 2012
The Canadian government spent almost two years fighting to keep this information secret, the report claimed, and it is still unclear how the force was unable to acquire the key, and if Mounties can still read messages.
“We have long been clear in our stance that tech companies as good corporate citizens should comply with reasonable lawful access requests,” Chen said.
“I have stated before that we are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good.”
BES not affected
Chen also stressed that the company’s BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) servers were not involved at any point, calling the technology “impenetrable…. the most secure mobile platform for managing all mobile devices. That’s why we are the gold standard in government and enterprise-grade security.”
“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 added.
“We have been able to find this balance even as governments have pressured us to change our ethical grounds. Despite these pressures, our position has been unwavering and our actions are proof we commit to these principles.”
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