It is always interesting to watch the light and dark sides of our communications technology and laws do battle. Social networks and speed-of-light communication capabilities are incredible tools for revolutionary activity and organizing actions with large groups of people scattered around a country (or the world) with an ease protestors of generations past would have given anything to possess. But…what helps one side ultimately winds up helping the other side, too. So while technology like Blackberry can bring about amazing things for the side of good, they can just as easily be manipulated to assist the tyrannical forces of darkness.
Although Twitter and Facebook have played a key role in the recent London riots, police believe that for the first time there, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) was the main and favored organizational tool. Why? Unlike text messaging or Twitter, BBM is a free, private social network where almost all messages are encrypted when they leave the sender’s phone–meaning that many messages are untraceable by the authorities.
What’s the Big Idea?
BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM), which has said it would co-operate with a police investigation, can be legally ordered to hand police details of users suspected of unlawful activity. However, the Canadian company would be likely to resist those demands and the content of users’ inflammatory messages would be encrypted. The manufacturer has previously insisted that even it cannot unscramble users’ messages when sent on the devices.
Here is a related story from SCMagazine about Blackberry’s blog being hacked in retaliation for cooperating with law enforcement -
The official BlackBerry blog has been defaced after its parent RIM said it would co-operate fully with the Home Office and police force following the London riots.
In a blog post, BlackBerry said that it had ‘engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can‘ and was working to comply with The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and was co-operating fully with the Home Office and UK police forces.
The blog post, which at the time of writing is still live on the BlackBerry website, now features a response from ‘TeaMp0isoN’ who said that RIM ‘will not assist the UK police because if you do, innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a BlackBerry will get charged for no reason at all’. Continue Reading…
- Why London Rioters Preferred BlackBerry (bigthink.com)
- VIDEO: BlackBerrys used by rioters on streets (bbc.co.uk)
- London riots: BlackBerry workers threatened (telegraph.co.uk)
- Why Has BlackBerry Been Blamed for the London Riots? (wired.com)