Saturday, August 7, 2010

''They'll read everything.''

So says Bruce Schneier, an author and chief security technology officer at British telecommunications operator BT in an article about the ongoing BlackBerry negotiations (I copied his job description from the article, to be clear, but if I put it in quotes it makes it look like the description is misleading). Specifically, he's referring to the Saudi government and the recent BlackBerry data dust-up. "They'll read everything."

And, as I noted, they probably already do read everything else. This still implies that the countries that aren't making a fuss are already reading all the RIM/BlackBerry data they want (and everything else), especially Western nations. The nations mentioned in the NYT article are:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • The UAE
  • Indonesia
So, one must assume that the US...
  1. Gets all the data they want from RIM's BlackBerry service.
  2. Doesn't share it with any of those above countries in a way they like.
Apparently there are already local servers, or deals for them, in Russia and China. The article says, "Schneier said the Saudi arrangement is similar to deals RIM has struck in Russia and China," which is not exactly clear if those have happened or will happen.

However, RIM "issued a statement last week denying it has given some governments access to BlackBerry data." So, it's not really clear. And, one can safely assume that some governments, like the US, don't actually ask in a way that RIM would have to refer to as "giving", perhaps it's more like "taking."

One also assumes that the US government would share anything important it discovers with the Saudi government if it were relevant (and vice-versa), so I don't see that terrorism is really an issue, and maybe various agencies aren't actually getting along as well as they should. Or, as mentioned in the article:
Critics maintain that Saudi Arabia and other countries are motivated at least partly by a desire to curb freedom of expression and strengthen already tight controls over the media.
Sadly the article does not actually name or interview any of these critics.

Addition: A better article, finally, from the NYT.