Following the recent news that BlackBerry’s global decryption key was in the hands of the Canadian Police since 2010, current CEO John Chen has taken to the BlackBerry Blog to clear the air. BlackBerry feels as though “tech companies as good corporate citizens should comply with reasonable lawful access requests,” a position they have made clear in the past.
The case that surfaced was an old one, and it doesn’t appear as though all of the details were exactly accurate. BlackBerry’s assistance in this case ended up dismantling a major criminal organization while standing by its access principles. At no point was the BES server ever involved, as it remains impenetrable. From John Chen’s blog post:
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. 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.
The line that divides keeping things top secret and helping government agencies is a tough one to draw, and not everyone will agree with each decision that is made. It’s great to see Chen acknowledge the incident publicly and provide an explanation to everyone.