Canadian cops cry for BlackBerry wiretap

How to eat a golden egg


Comment It has recently dawned on Canadian officials that communications sent with the BlackBerry are among the hardest mobile messages to eavesdrop on. But rather than congratulate the Waterloo, Ontario-based Research in Motion on a job well done, they're calling for laws that would force service providers to use only technology that can be tapped.

Police and politicians in Canada call the BlackBerry the device of choice for criminals and law enforcement, according to the CBC. That's largely thanks to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which encrypts data and secures network connections. Layer on top of that some additional encryption software - which is easy to do on the Blackberry - and you've got something close to military grade security, the news service says.

Enter liberal member of parliament Marlene Jennings, who tells the news service that cracking the BlackBerry and other devices that use strong encryption is essential for law enforcement to do its job.

"Law enforcement needs it, Canadians need it. It's an essential tool for the battle against crime," she says.

No doubt, not all police surveillance is bad, and the protection encryption provides from prying eyes cuts both ways. Which is to say that sometimes encryption is going to make it easier for bad guys to conceal their illicit ways.

But a lot of perfectly legitimate people - including a certain leader of a large, western state - swear by the BlackBerry precisely because it is viewed as more secure than iPhones and all its peers.

Sure, law enforcement would be required to have a warrant before they could access any encrypted communications. But the US Secret Service isn't likely to take comfort in such formalities, and neither are millions of business people who want to exercise some level of control over the messages they send.

So, to MP Jennings and her allies: Good luck fighting a losing battle against technology. And a warning: If you're not careful, you may kill the goose that lays your country's most golden of eggs. ®


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