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Saudi Says RIM Deal Reached; BlackBerry OK, If We Can Read the Messages

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the envelopes-ok-but-must-be-clear dept.

Censorship 185

crimeandpunishment writes "There's a deal on the table to avert a ban on Blackberry's messenger service in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi regulatory official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press the deal involves placing a server in Saudi Arabia ... and letting the government monitor users' messages, easing Saudi concerns over security and criminal usage. The deal could have wide-ranging implications, given how many other countries have expressed similar concerns, or in the case of the United Arab Emirates, have threatened to block Blackberry email and messaging services." Perhaps the governments of UAE and India would be satisfied, too, if only they had access to the messages transmitted.

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...and RIM capitulates. (4, Interesting)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174438)

Guess they don't have any backbone to just drop the country and let the end-users take action.

they are a business, why should they care? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174546)

Why should RIM care if they make sales? Businesses only worry about ethics when they might cause a reduction in profits. NGOs and individuals I expect to have ethics, but not corporations. Where does "backbone" come into running a business?

Canada and USA and a lot of other countries trade with Saudia Arabia, I haven't seen them declaring trade embargoes over Saudia Arabia's human rights issues either.

Personally I'd prefer it if companies (and countries) behaved ethically but from I've read over the last couple of decades this doesn't seem to be something they voluntarily indulge in.

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174610)

RIM is handing over the trade secrets and strategies of anyone who uses their product to a country that laid out the modern framework for capitalizing on connections to terrorists as leverage in dealing with the West. The Saudis are the model for Pakistan.

There will be blowback on this, but given the current state of world affairs it is just another straw on the camel's broken back.

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (-1, Troll)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174986)

Yeah, I mean terrorism has increased massively over the years (and even 2010 has much more than 2009), but given how quickly the spineless give in, it's actually amazing it hasn't increased faster. And more and more people keep saying to just give them what they want, since terrorists, whether muslim, tamil, lefties, or even right-wing terrorists (not many of those around, but not zero either).

You see, terrorists are the real victims here, don't you understand ? Like saudi arabia.

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175420)

Has it increased, or has it changed? Is it even just your perception of it that has changed? Consider IRA and Britain, Israel and Palestine, these things go back centuries.

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175444)

An early recorded piece of attempted modern terrorism would be "Remember, remember the fifth of November." An event that dates back to 1605 and now is actually celebrated now in the UK.

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175842)

As someone that once caused a Brit pee blood because he was a Brit I can tell you it has changed. Once upon a time terrorism was an end point for practitioners. Anyone that knew what had transpired between the Brit and myself, the types of materials to which I had access, and the political views that I espoused would have been mostly correct in identifying me as an individual likely to find my way into association with politically motivated civilian actors, possibly real terrorists.

But then the world got bigger overnight. The ability to reflect upon oneself after exposure to the whole wide world changes the entire game. Terrorism is only one application for a set of tools upon which modern society is based, and many people that don't even know they are hacking have used these tools in anger.

Any time you fuck with the medium via which your peers are experiencing life, whether through innovation or malice, you are using the terrorist skill set.

Coming up with the next killer app and coming up with the next 9-11 are both inherited from the same theory of thought. Both require the thinker to tread a line between what is and what can be. Both may be aided by obtaining privileged information about the organization, focus, capabilities, and expectations of the opposition. Anyone with half a brain that goes through the process will realize at some point that the dark side does have cookies, and you can smell them quite clearly from the intellectual vista where you commune with the muse.

There may be many reasons to choose the path of light, instead of choosing to pull a Fiorina or worse. Maybe you want to be able to eat without directly ensuring the production and safety of your food supply? How about being an artist? How about just being an art lover? The dark siders cannot do these things except through a) ignorance of the reality that their own indiscretions are particles to the waves of chaos that threaten us all or b) failing to recognize the power inherent in the existence of value systems that coexist with their own and have survived longer than any single practitioner of any single value system.

It is like there is a trough that you have to help keep filled or eat from - plenty of folk do both simultaneously. The definition of terrorist has gradually expanded in America to include everyone with the skills capable of building and filling a different trough.

I went on to join a punk band with the Brit, I played bass and let him heckle me for being so sensitive about my dead ancestors and his living ones. It was just a matter of adjusting the theory by reflection upon application, and smoking a lot of pot.

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175642)

Haha, what? No, seriously. What? Hahahaha

It's funny enough when people think competent terrorists exist, let alone thinking that their numbers have "massively increased". Unless you mean state-sponsored terrorism? Because THAT's certainly on the up.

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174630)

Why should RIM care if they make sales?

Because it's the right thing to do.

Businesses only worry about ethics when they might cause a reduction in profits.

I have yet to hear a good argument that this should be the case.

Canada and USA and a lot of other countries trade with Saudia Arabia, I haven't seen them declaring trade embargoes over Saudia Arabia's human rights issues either.

None of which has anything to do with whether RIM is doing the right thing here.

I agree but it's unlikely to happen (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174864)

I wholeheartedly agree with you that companies should behave ethically but it appears from experience that they rarely do this voluntarily.

Hence my noting that there is no governmental embargo in place over Saudia Arabia's privacy / tapping position or other human rights records. Governments could provide the lead, but the message they are sending out is "no problem, do as you will". RIM could argue that they are behaving within the law, and their government is not either providing direct advice, legal restrictions or leading by an example which suggests they should behave other than are doing.

Re:I agree but it's unlikely to happen (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175028)

That's because the government is merely the biggest corporation around. Why would you expect any different behavior from them ?

Also, quite frankly, would you be willing to live with the consequences of giving America 1/3rd less energy ? (knowing that energy cannot be taken away from most things without ghastly consequences. It can be taken away from your private home (from your always-on computer), from your car (or from your wallet if you use public transportation), basically, it can be taken away from the common American. Because most types of production and transportation just can't operate on less cash, that means private persons would have to give up 75% or more of the energy they use to accomodate this. That would literally mean no heating in winter, nor cooling in summer. It'd be a return to the times when a bodycount was made after winter in every city.

Until we have a good option, we can't do without the Saudi's.

Re:I agree but it's unlikely to happen (1)

cacba (1831766) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175104)

it appears from experience that they rarely do this voluntarily.

From watching the news, I would never have thought crime was decreasing. People are generally good, let that be the assumption till proven otherwise.

Re:I agree but it's unlikely to happen (3, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175624)

From watching the news, I would never have thought crime was decreasing.

Amazing, isn't it? You'd think that crime was completely out of control.

Even crime along the US/Mexican border has decreased for each of the last 5 years. From all the hollering in Arizona, you'd think that it was completely lawless, when in fact, crime rates are significantly down.

Re:I agree but it's unlikely to happen (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175348)

wholeheartedly agree with you that companies should behave ethically but it appears from experience that they rarely do this voluntarily.

I would argue it's worse than that - if the marketplace simply allows unethical behavior, and if there is a competitive advantage in being unethical, then natural selection will actually weed out all the ethical companies as inefficient. Thus your options are 1) play dirty or 2) don't play at all. (Same as how you can't get elected without making unrealistic campaign promises.)

Re:I agree but it's unlikely to happen (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175666)

Thus your options are 1) play dirty or 2) don't play at all.

To the extent that I'm able, when it comes to unethical companies, I do my best not to play at all. I'm sure there are plenty of customers who don't mind what a company does as long as their products are shiny and the price is right. But once in a while, boycotts have a very positive effect.

if the marketplace simply allows unethical behavior, and if there is a competitive advantage in being unethical, then natural selection will actually weed out all the ethical companies as inefficient.

You've just described one of the biggest arguments against the notion that "free markets" are good things. In a truly "free market" the result would inevitably a few huge companies, a few very rich people and a lot of poor people who work very hard and have very big debts. That's just the way corporations like it because it limits their workers' choices. When you're poor and have lots of debt, you'll take any job and work for almost nothing and you don't have choice in the matter. You keep buying with the credit card and having fewer and fewer choices. In a free market, everybody "owes their soul to the company store".

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174792)

>>>NGOs and individuals I expect to have ethics, but not corporations.

Revoke corporate licenses.

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175088)

Ronnie Dugger was working with Jim Hightower back in the nineties on a project to educate voters about corporate charters and how to revoke them.

I attended a meeting in Los Angeles and was interested in their efforts but couldn't get any interest among local activists who were too busy inserting themselves into veteran/holiday parades with subversive signs, picketing rodeos for cruelty, and furiously jerking each other off to care.

Different players are mentioned in the same context here [corpwatch.org] . The blurb section at the end is nice.

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174894)

Because their sales depend on business people going to Saudi Arabia and using their products. How do you think their customers will react now that the Saudi government can eavesdrop on confidential business communications, trade secrets, corporate strategy, etc... ???

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175198)

the same way their other customers react when us border guards go thru their laptops, blackberries etc. they will either ban the carrying of devices to hostile countries like the usa or saudi or not give a shit.

Ethics can be profitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175094)

Since RIM has built its reputation on secure communications, the ethical choice may also be the profitable choice. It is possible that by standing by their principles, RIM could acquire new customers that may offset any loss in customers that a ban in Saudi Arabia might cause.

Also, the Blackberry is a mature product that is quite pervasive in the business community and corporations are generally slow to migrate away from such integrated technologies. I think that it is more likely that companies will stop doing business IN Saudi Arabia. This does not mean that they stop doing business WITH Saudi Arabia, but I can see Saudi Arabia's hotel and tourist industry taking more of hit than RIM. I think that it will be easier for most to stay away from Saudi Arabia than to give up their Blackberry's.

As a Canadian, I sincerely hope that RIM stands up to these Bullies. After all, this is just another example where, for the sake of "national security", the rights of the average person are trampled on. Meanwhile, those who are intent on doing harm have an entire arsenal of free and open source tools that are just as secure as the Blackberry (if not more so). This kind of invasion of privacy does nothing to stop, or even curtail, those who have evil intentions (and have half a brain).

On a final note, I can't believe that the headline has been "RIM banned in Saudi Arabia" . The headline should have been "Saudi Arabia monitoring all communications".

they have excellent reason to care (1)

alizard (107678) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175246)

A very large part of the sales appeal of a phone with an aging UI and an "uncool" form factor and a proprietary OS and limited app capability (why yes, I do have one) is precisely because it's "secure". That's why President Obama carries one.

Government and big business sales of the RIM phones are largely driven by "secure", more modern phones with more features and better UIs are available at the same price or cheaper.

Having "just" Saudi Arabia able to read Blackberry messages is like being "just" a little bit pregnant. RIM's product differentiation just disappeared... and by the time two more nations have built in wiretap capabilities thanks to RIM, their major customers will be switching to something else. IOW, they'll have destroyed their basic market for sales of a few thousand SKUs.

This is great news for Apple and Google and everyone making Android phones. If anyone wants to compete in the "secure" government and enterprise market, it's a matter of simply bundling crypto apps into the UI and making the setup easy and automatic.

As for RIM. I hope a smarter vendor picks up the touchpad when RIM goes down... IMO, it's superior to touch screen for small form-factor platforms. With a touchpad, you don't have to try to guess what's under your finger when you push the button.

Re:they are a business, why should they care? (0, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175608)

Businesses only worry about ethics when they might cause a reduction in profits.

Well, RIM joins the list of companies I won't ever do business with.

My Blackberry is getting a little old anyway. My contract was up back in March, so I guess it's time for a new, non-RIM phone.

It's not that I think my buying decision will have any effect on RIM. It's just that when I do business with a company that does scummy stuff, it bothers me. I feel better when I stop.

I stopped shopping at Whole Foods last year because the CEO was acting like a dick. Other people must have done the same because the CEO eventually got fired and Whole Foods profits are way down while some other companies in that same industry space are doing well.

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (2, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174568)

End-users won't fix the problem. RIM would simply lose money.

The Middle East not only doesn't play by our customs, those customs are utterly alien.

They want the technology, but they remain tribalist, Jihadist, Wahabist in the case of KSA, and none of this is changing for the better.

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (0, Offtopic)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175620)

We shouldn't allow Evangelical Christians to use computers.

They don't play by nerd's rules and they have freaky traditions.

They want the technology but they want to remain ignorant and unthinking, and none of this is changing for the better.

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175838)

Also true... and completely irrelevant to this discussion.

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (3, Insightful)

CdBee (742846) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174618)

I posted on here in another thread a few days back that RIMs refusal to back down in the UAE stood them in very good stead as a company as their users would respect that. Its amazing how quickly one can lose confidence again....

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174638)

The NSA would prefer that didn't happen.

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174658)

Note: They never said they would not give a government access to private customers (BIS) as they will do in this case, they said they COULD not give anyone access to enterprise customers (BES) simply 'cause they don't have the keys...

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174662)

Guess they don't have any backbone to just drop the country and let the end-users take action.

Just what action do you propose the users take - against the Islamic Saudi state and monarchy?

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175602)

500 kT of U-235 detonated 2,000 feet AGL at Mecca and Medina would do a lot of good. It would of course be necessary to warn their respective populations at least 30 days in advance, and it would be helpful to offer UN assistance with evacuation of the elderly and infirm.

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (3, Insightful)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174844)

Just a word of caution before everyone here denounces RIM: We all remember the news [slashdot.org] a few days ago that Google made an agreement with Verizon for preferential access to their network. Everyone here was raising hell about how Google threw their "open Internet" stance out the window for profit. And then, after a few hours, we got an update: No such deal!
So, people, wait a few hours and let's see what's the real deal between RIM and the Saudi government. If this is the real deal - then shame on them!

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (2, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175076)

And all the moral relativists come out of the woodwork to suddenly embrace right and wrong.

Companies don't go to heaven. So companies get NO credit for doing what is right. They only get credit for doing what is necessary to survive.

Vote with your dollars...but people will still buy whatever product they like best.

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175418)

All morality is relative. The moral thing to do would be for the USA to have embargoed Saudi Arabia a long time ago.

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175550)

Compared to the alternatives (Iranian/Syrian style government), the Saudi monarchy is not so bad, hence why the USA does not apply sanctions to them. The USA was fine dealing with dictators when the alternative was soviet style governments because we viewed them as a better alternative and the odds of replacing the government with something better just weren't that good - see Iraq for how hard it is to replace even deplorable dictatorships with stable regimes.

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (3, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175806)

All morality is relative.

The moral thing to do...

Thanks for illustrating my first point.

Re:...and RIM capitulates. (2, Informative)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175520)

Guess they don't have any backbone to just drop the country and let the end-users take action.

It's interesting how we keep seeing a conflation of two different issues.

BES (enterprise) cannot be monitored. All traffic is encrypted - while it travels through RIM servers, it is encrypted with a key owned by the companies running BES. This includes email and - if I recall correctly -- BlackBerry messenger messages. This means that only devices that have the appropriate keys can decrypt the traffic. No matter what deals are reached, this can't be changed by RIM.

BIS (consumer) is routed through BB servers, and is not encrypted (or in the case of BBM not unbreakably encrypted). This can be monitored and probably is in many places.

So in the past few days, we've seen RIM make an announcement over how BES is utterly secure. This has not changed at all - without the keys that companies own, BES traffic can't be decrypted -- RIM devices natively support TripleDES, AES128/192/256, and a host of other crypto algorithms. I don't think anyone's managed to break them so far, at least not in any practical sense...

Presumably what's happened is that RIM is providing access to monitor BIS (consumer) traffic -- which is something that they've done in other places as well and has prior precedent.

Privacy (2, Interesting)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174440)

I'm glad I have it.

(At least for now... my fellow US citizens seem to be completely blind to the forces at work to destroy our privacy.)

Re:Privacy (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174524)

You do realize that the US gov't knows it could not do the same thing without getting a big uproar, but they can just get all of RIM's traffic routed through Saudi Arabia, right... Who am I kidding, the US ALREADY can view everybody's BlackBerry messages.

Re:Privacy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174644)

Who am I kidding, the US ALREADY can view everybody's BlackBerry messages.

Any evidence of that?

I recall my company's legal team doing a search for any instance where intercepted, decrypted messages from a Blackberry Enterprise Server were used in court. The lawyers weren't able to find any cases.

Now, that doesn't prove anything, but it's a good indicator.

Plus, you can use S/MIME and PGP with blackberry for additional encryption.

Re:Privacy (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174770)

I recall my company's legal team doing a search for any instance where intercepted, decrypted messages from a Blackberry Enterprise Server were used in court. The lawyers weren't able to find any cases.

Now, that doesn't prove anything

Well, you got that last bit right.

Do you think that when Tom Cruise cracked the Enigma code in WWI the result was a lawsuit against the Nazis?

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174842)

Well, you got that last bit right.
Do you think that when Tom Cruise cracked the Enigma code in WWI the result was a lawsuit against the Nazis?

There is quite a bit of evidence that organized crime are using blackberries and other mobile encrypted email platforms to communicate.

If the US government had the ability to routinely intercept & decrypt AES-encrypted messages from a Blackberry Enterprise Server, I think some evidence would have appeared in court cases against high-value criminal targets.

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174958)

There is quite a bit of evidence that organized crime are using blackberries and other mobile encrypted email platforms to communicate.

If the US government had the ability to routinely intercept & decrypt AES-encrypted messages from a Blackberry Enterprise Server, I think some evidence would have appeared in court cases against high-value criminal targets.

Heh...no. Never let them know you know about them unless there's more to gain from it than the loss of them not knowing. I'm sure somebody is glad to let Organized Crime and all sorts of spies think they're getting away with crap, when it's just easier to not use the evidence.

Re:Privacy (1)

TheTrueScotsman (1191887) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175000)

I haven't seen the Enigma movie (did Tom Cruise have a good English accent?), so I don't know if it covered this, but the Allies deliberately didn't use the information gathered by Enigma in direct tactical responses because they didn't want the Nazis to know that they'd cracked the code.

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175730)

The government would have to be literally retarded to let on that they can read those messages. The obvious thing to do, if they can read them, is to monitor and obtain information like where drugs are stored, what phone numbers are used, where the money goes, where people meet, things that they can get legitimate evidence from - and then manufacture an informant to pass that information on and get a warrant/subpoena. Absolutely no need to show their cards.

They do this all the time with shit as inconsequential as weed busts. Fly illegal infrared sweeps over towns, flag houses that are suspiciously hot, then pay a crackhead $5 to "tip them off" that those houses are used for growing weed so they can do a no knock raid and shoot some dogs without having to worry about the Fourth Amendment and fruit of the poisonous tree. If the sheriffs in Podunk can manage this you'd have to be mad to believe the DEA and FBI can't.

Re:Privacy (2, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175534)

You're right - BES can't be intercepted/decrypted. BIS/consumer-grade is a completely different matter. (Unless, as you say, S/MIME is used....)

Re:Privacy (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174600)

Uh... Where do you think the existing servers are?

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174738)

Uh... Where do you think the existing servers are?

For the US, the servers are located in Soviet Canuckistan. Er, I mean, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Re:Privacy (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175196)

Unless you use encryption, don't be so sure you have privacy.

money talks, freedom walks (4, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174476)

really, that's all that needs to be said.

fwiw, I have lost all respect for RIM and will not buy their products for my own personal use. they were on the high moral ground for a while but now that they've caved in, they are no different than the other 'carriers'.

their security is now rendered 'untrustable'. what a shame.

another one bites the dust.

Re:money talks, freedom walks (3, Insightful)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174528)

Aren't you being a little over dramatic? Exactly how did you think the world worked? You really weren't naïve enough tho think that they cared about anything besides profits for the shareholders did you?

Re:money talks, freedom walks (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174576)

what exactly is RIM selling? confidence and trust.

they just threw all that out the door.

yes, I think its a HUGE deal. when their whole stock and trade is privacy and then they turn around and sign a 'smiling deal' with our arch enemies (...), yes, I consider that an about-face in the harshest of ways.

we all suspected the almighty looney was king, here; but I was hoping for a ray of sunlight. hoping; but apparently not getting.

no corporation, today, can continue the 'do no evil' for very long. how very sad for us all.

Re:money talks, freedom walks (0, Flamebait)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174646)

P,P. Just a fw points:

Yes, it's disappointing (to say the least) that RIM is enabling other countries to do what is illegal in Canada - such as making sure women don't date.

All that's going to happen is that people will find other ways, same as they have always done. The Saudi leadership wants this because they are very unpopular - world-wide, not just at home.

Re:money talks, freedom walks (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175822)

Making sure women don't date? Where is this country where only gay men can date? :D

Re:money talks, freedom walks (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174676)

no corporation, today, can continue the 'do no evil'...
"hehehe. Oh wait you were serious, let me laugh even harder HAHAHAHAHA!" ~Bender

I was looking at RIMs product line and yeah I didn't see anything about Confidence and Trust probably because you can't patent them. I'm really shocked you've made it so far in life and hadn't learned this lesson yet.

Re:money talks, freedom walks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174896)

I am really shocked you've made it so far in life being the sort of easily dislikable jerk that uses phrases like "I am really shocked you've made it so far in life".

PS: It's "hasn't" not "hadn't".

Re:money talks, freedom walks (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174680)

what exactly is RIM selling? confidence and trust.

they just threw all that out the door.

yes, I think its a HUGE deal. when their whole stock and trade is privacy

Absolutely agree. Research in Motion (RIM) has signed the equivalent of a declaration of war against the organizations and persons who chose a BlackBerry device due to its high-level of security and end-to-end security over the network operated by RIM. Once the data reaches the customers messaging servers the data comes under the control and responsibility of the customer, but during transmission through the RIM network is solely the responsibility of RIM. In my opinion, Research in Motion is in breach of contract on a massive scale.

Re:money talks, freedom walks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174808)

Absolutely agree. Research in Motion (RIM) has signed the equivalent of a declaration of war against the organizations and persons who chose a BlackBerry device due to its high-level of security and end-to-end security over the network operated by RIM.

Absolutely not. You don't understand how the blackberry enterprise server (BES) platform works.

The BES is a software program that you install on your server in your office, and talks to your exchange/notes/groupwise server.

1. The BES and the handheld negotiate & exchange keys. This can be done by direct USB cable for additional paranoia.
2. When the BES wants to transmit an email to the handheld, the BES encrypts the email using the handheld's negotiated key.
3. The BES transmits the encrypted message to RIM.
4. RIM transmits the encrypted message to the mobile network operator.
5. The mobile network operator transmits the encrypted message to the device.
6. The device decrypts the message.

Neither RIM nor the mobile network operator have the decryption keys. Even if you show up with a court order, RIM and the mobile network operator can't help you read the message.

The decrypted messages are only located in 2 places: on the handheld, and on your email server.

Of course, the encrypted messages can be intercepted by governments/criminals/hackers, but then they have to decrypt AES. Good luck with the brute-force. Unless you know something I don't, it is going to take a very long time.

Once the data reaches the customers messaging servers the data comes under the control and responsibility of the customer, but during transmission through the RIM network is solely the responsibility of RIM.

RIM is only the conduit of the message, like the mobile network operator. RIM only promises to transmit your encrypted messages to their destination and confirm delivery.

In my opinion, Research in Motion is in breach of contract on a massive scale.

Not at all. For one thing, go read your contract with RIM. Secondly, RIM and the Saudi mobile network operators are continuing to transmit encrypted messages.

Further, I don't see what the fuss is about. This is Saudi Arabia - you have no rights. If the Saudi government wants to see what is on your blackberry, they will arrest you, throw you in jail, and torture you until you show them. And this would be real torture, not like the mild version the USA is accused of.

Re:money talks, freedom walks (1)

cacba (1831766) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175052)

sign a 'smiling deal' with our arch enemies

Someone should really get the word out, there is ~10 billion dollars of trade. I'll update wikipedia then we can get this war started.

I have lost all respect for RIM

Rockefeller advanced medicine, RIM built perimeter. A little perspective please, the world has enough drama.

Re:money talks, freedom walks (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175322)

You really ever believed that the US authorities never had access to blackberry data as and when they wanted it?

Why do you hold the US government to any higher degree of respect than that of the UAE? It's not like either of them believes that strongly in freedom, liberty or human rights.

Re:money talks, freedom walks (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175650)

Canadian* not that he mentioned either country besides the looney reference.

Re:money talks, freedom walks (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174624)

I would have thought their profits were critically dependent on trust

Re:money talks, freedom walks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174558)

You're pretty naive if you think they hadn't done this for other countries already.

I'm telling you guys, the tinfoil hats work!

Re:money talks, freedom walks (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175214)

"their security is now rendered 'untrustable'. what a shame."

Unless you encrypt your own traffic, why would you trust any carrier?

Travellers? (4, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174492)

I see how this solution would work for customers of Saudi mobile operators, whose phones would be pre-configured to use the 'local' BB server. What about travellers from other countries - would they have to go into their phone and manually re-configure it to contact the Saudi BB Server? Would that basically be the same steps as if you were setting up to use a corporate-owned BB Server? What if you already use a corporate BB Server? Will your messages be blocked? If the email account you are trying to check is your company email account, and the only way to access it is through the company-owned Enterprise BB Server, are you S.O.L.?

travel is optional (4, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174514)

You give up certain rights when you travel to a foreign country.

but is corporate willing to give them up? (2, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174544)

but is corporate willing to give them up? maybe not and they will need to find away around it or say no e-mail for workers that are in that country.

Re:but is corporate willing to give them up? (5, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174640)

This question has occurred before regarding the USA - some companies banned employees from taking email devices and laptops into the USA, to prevent border searches accessing confidential data, in the light of the new US security arrangements after the terrorist attacks of the last decade

Re:but is corporate willing to give them up? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175302)

[...] after the terrorist attacks of the last decade [...]

Don't you really mean "after the terrorist attacks that happened over a decade ago, which the authorities keep reminding us of to keep us in fear? What color is the threat level today?"

Re:but is corporate willing to give them up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175702)

2010 - 2001 = 9

9 > 10

Perhaps you meant "nearly a decade ago" rather than "over a decade ago".

Re:but is corporate willing to give them up? (1)

DickeyP (1651593) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175742)

The threat level color for today, and every day since that serious act of war, is "necessary". And if you have to be reminded, that means you forgot.

not really (1)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174816)

There are some universal rights. Among them should be that no government should have the right to go on fishing expeditions through private communications. That isn't universally recognized, but hopefully we can get there.

Of course, the nations of the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, etc.) all commit far more serious human rights violations than merely digging through people's Blackberry messages, but still...

Re:not really (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175370)

There are some universal rights.

I'm curious, which ones are those? Off the top of my head, I can't think of any universally recognized rights. Some governments recognize some, others don't. Just depends on the country and the "right"...

Re:travel is optional (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175106)

"You give up certain rights when you travel to a foreign country."

And you give them ALL up (well, unless you are military) when you travel in the Middle East. That isn't a troll or a joke.

Don't like how they roll? Do not go there, you don't need to be there, end of story.

Re:travel is optional (3, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175328)

You give up certain rights when you travel to a foreign country

Rights are inherent and not given or allowed by any government. Nor are laws enumerations on these rights.

I thought that was the whole point of the Magna Carta and the American Revolution.

But if you want to be pragmatic about it, it is in the moral and political best interest of any nation who does respect those rights to put pressure on countries that do not.

Or is it ok to be nice with people who allow repression and torture in their countries?

It doesn't matter if it is their law in that country or not, if you are an individual or a corporation that plays nice with those rules, it means you support those policies. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about that.

Re:Travellers? (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174694)

I'm not familiar with BlackBerries (or really most cell phones; I don't have one), but I assume that your transmissions would be picked up at the tower and intercepted soon after (and, of course, forwarded on to their destination).
So you'd see no difference in service (except maybe latency).

Re:Travellers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175612)

In theory (/ as I've been told) the messages are end (Blackberry) to end (Blackberry Enterprise Server, possessed by the corporation) encrypted.

Re:Travellers? (1)

NevDull (170554) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174838)

It might actually be Blackberry Messenger that they're up in arms about more than e-mail, with its more real-time nature being perceived as an imminent threat in a terrorism situation.

Re:Travellers? (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175144)

So SSH to a secure server outside Saudi Arabia and send/receive email through a CLI mail program. Yeah, it's more of a PITA, but it allows you to still have unreadable communication. Unless they block all SSH traffic...

Re:Travellers? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175450)

Why a CLI mail program? Just setup the SSH tunnel and use whatever program you want.

In other news, talks with OpenSSH (4, Insightful)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174562)

reached a virtual standstill when the maintainers told Saudi Arabia to "stick it".

On the one hand.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174578)

RIM is probably one of the few companies who can make that claim, that they don't even have access to messages.

But on the other hand, in Saudi Arabia, "driving while female" is "criminal', so their claims are suspect at best.

But they already have access to the messages! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174584)

Saudi Arabia controls the telecom infrastructure, and can tap it easily.

Oh, you mean the unencrypted messages - that's something else.

But of course (2, Informative)

BangaIorean (1848966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174594)

Perhaps the governments of UAE and India would be satisfied, too, if only they had access to the messages transmitted.

But of course. Like this guy has mentioned here [slashdot.org] . It's all about getting a server established in India.

At least they admid of having a deal (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174690)

Are you sure your country doesn't have such a deal? I can imagine how the talks went:
"We are going to ban your hardware, because we can't listen in."
"Why did you not say that earlier. Here is a server so you can listen in on everything. Oh and here are the keys for the backdoors, so you don't need to call us again."

It is becoming scary how we all start to accept how easy and normal it is to gather information and listen in on people. Some people would call it privacy, I call it personal freedom and I will try to defend it as much as I can.

Clever, if evil. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174784)

Architecturally, it looks like this deal will affect only BIS users, the ones that just walk up to the Phones-r-us kiosk and buy a blackberry and service plan. It won't have any effect on corporate customers running BES servers, since those have their own keys, and devices talking to them won't be dealing with the BIS servers being set up in Saudi Arabia.

Thus, the customers most likely to complain, and make their complaints felt in the pocketbook, are unaffected, while the little people are ever more transparent.

What does this say about secrets? (1)

NevDull (170554) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174810)

All of this hubbub comes around the time of the big Wikileaks document release.

What does it say about us that not only do our governments want to keep secrets "safe" from us, but that for us to be able to keep secrets is dangerous.

The only difference is that they presume themselves innocent, and presume us guilty.

Re:What does this say about secrets? (2, Insightful)

ldconfig (1339877) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174848)

1984 was a warning but sadly its turned into a how-to manual.

Re:What does this say about secrets? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175320)

1984 was a warning but sadly its turned into a how-to manual.

"Wake up!" sings Danny Elfman, in my sig. That was 27 years ago, and it has gotten much worse since.

blackberry server? (1)

EricX2 (670266) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174906)

Maybe I should do research, but if I have a blackberry with enterprise activation syncing with my work email, is that using a RIM owned server or a server with my company? If it is a private owned server, how can RIM give anybody access to the messages?

Also, if I use activesync on my iphone does apple have access to my messages?

Why India would want this (1)

kuthkameen (1197361) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174910)

I don't know about Saudi and UAE, but India is primarily concerned about this because of terrorism. Many of the recent bomb blasts were triggered by cell phones, all of which were registered under fake identities. Hence the concern. Look at how many attacks have happened in India: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_major_terrorist_incidents_in_India [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why India would want this (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174960)

lol. those who give up liberty for security deserve neither.

Re:Why India would want this (2, Insightful)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175174)

From what I have read in various sources, most of the terrorists' communication is in code. That is, plain language words and phrases have a specific meaning. They don't use encryption since the very act of encrypting their communication draws attention to it. Something like, "My cousin's wedding is Wednesday," could mean that their planned attack will happen on Wednesday... or this guy's cousin really is getting married on Wednesday. Encrypting such a message just draws attention to it.

Getting access to something like a Blackberry server won't stop the terrorists from communicating. It might give local companies an advantage if the government makes what should be proprietary information available.

Cheers,
Dave

Tweet Mohammed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174942)

Tell the Saudis the servers are chock full of pictures of Mohammed. That should keep them out.

Re:Tweet Mohammed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174984)

If they're not, I think it's our duty to make it happen.

Just give me a data connection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174980)

just give me a way to move my bits where I want, and I'll take care of my own encryption, thank you very much. trusting any vendor to provide secure encryption is truly naive.

People deserve the freedom they get (5, Interesting)

cecom (698048) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175096)

People deserve the freedom they get. Have you read the comments on BBC's article.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10899338 [bbc.co.uk]
Let me quite a few:

Abu Mohd, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

I am an expat living in Saudi Arabia. For me the Blackberry is key to staying in contact with my family and friends in a way that I cannot do with other messaging services. I hope Saudi Arabia and RIM solve this situation. There are many people that work here who are away from their families that use this service. This ban would be one more reason to not come here, it does not help to the development of this country.

Suresh Haridas, Al khobar, Saudi Arabia

BlackBerry made our life much easier, whether we are using e-mail, internet, or BBM. A lot of people/students such as myself who live thousands of miles away from their family and friends really depend on BBM as a convenient medium to communicate. There is nothing compared to BBM in terms of quickness, convenience, and cost. On the other hand, I understand why governments such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, and others feel threatened. However, I am wondering why BlackBerry does not help these countries in terms of monitoring data and using their own servers to get to encrypted information.

Rakan H, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

I am one of the youths who owns a BlackBerry and I completely agree that it is a major step in my country to protect it against any terrorist or anything that might affect our security. Also I believe all countries like the US should consider the same thing, because it is a tool that can be used among those people who can get access to national security and cause terror to communities. It is a perfect tool for them, cutting it off worldwide will definitely reduce the amount of global issues occurring. If it is necessary to protect the country then why not!

Jim, Singapore

I am a Canadian, living in Dubai and dreading losing my Blackberry. Most people I know are aware of the high level of security in the UAE and appreciate the benefits it provides. I would much rather lose some personal freedoms than take a chance with security. RIM has to understand that Dubai is a transit point for trade and potentially terrorism. Its population is continuously changing as over 80% of its residents are foreigners. UAE's high level of security is in the interests of the West. I am hopeful for a positive resolution but am not brave enough to buy up all the handsets that are selling cheap.

Ara, Dubai, UAE

Whilst it's perfectly true that any invasion of personal privacy in the name of national security is usually resented, I don't really understand the sense of outrage on this one. After all, don't the western intelligence agencies have extensive gathering facilities for the same sort of thing? I don't see the Gulf states doing anything more than our own governments, like it or not.

https? (1)

cecom (698048) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175138)

One would assume that this is all pointless, since anybody could just use a web service via https.

However one would also assume that these governments control at least one trusted signing authority, so they can freely intercept any https.

Re:https? (2, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175512)

httpS is also not trustable. MITM attacks are not hard (buy the right piece of 'security appliance' and it will fool both ends of the SSL attack. I interviewed at various bay area companies (networking field) and they ALL are trying/doing this, now. very sad and very eye-opening.

I will never trust the 's' in https again now that I've seen how bad the end-to-end 'authentication' is.

Kettle meets pot (1)

Mubarmij (176563) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175334)

FWIW, Saudi Arabia, UAE and India were all asking RIM for the same level of access to the underlying network that RIM already gave to USA and UK (and probably others).

Saudi monitoring (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175540)

Will the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice [wikipedia.org] have access?

This makes a Blackberry useless for business purposes. In most of the countries involved, the Government itself owns major businesses. Nobody in the oil business would want to discuss anything related to a Government deal (which is most of them) over a Blackberry now.

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