After Blackberry decided to work with the Saudi Arabian government to provide them access to the encrypted communication layer that their cellphones use, also India is now demanding such and a couple of other countries are waiting in line. Although, personally, I am not difficult to persuade to grasp the point of view of ‘security’, but I cannot find it here. I do understand the business decision for Blackberry to work with the Saudi Arabian government – there are a lot of International corporations working there, and since Blackberry is still mostly a business smart-phone, they needto be connected in Saudi Arabia, just like with the off-shoring corporations in India. But this is a development that is at least fishy.
One of the good elements about a Blackberry (I have none, by the way, I am still working on a dreaded Win mobile) is a solid and well encrypted communication method. This is one of the features you cannot give up. But again, Saudi Arabia and India are too big areas to ignore, just like the Google threat to leave China – they are new and up-coming markets and to be a player there you have be playing by the rules.
But when the rules change during the game, it starts to smell. I am all for catching the bad guys, but this is another nail in the coffin for privacy. Anyone remember the Raptor story? That the CIA had developed the Raptor technology, being able to scan millions of emails to look for threats. And with the information ‘if you don’t have anything to hide, you don’t have anything to fear’ it was defended by government officials. OfficiallyRaptor was never user, but like in my last post, it is information I do not want to know.
And even here in the US we are in a country that respects your freedom. But Saudi Arabia, India, Libia? Freedom is a whole different term even there. True, when it comes to crime-fighting you want to give the government agencies the possibility to get there. But if so much more gears in that clock are broken, why not fix that first before taking away another bit of privacy.
Europe is going into a whole wrong direction too with the data collection and storage. Every email, page visit is stored there now for six months. But it is not only that, it now appeared that a lot of ISP’s did not store it securely and it is easy to access. And it is such an amount of data it is almost impossible to mine. But even if the technology was impossibly perfect, the agency accessing it should be flawless too, without any corruption and without any anterior motives.
Keep in mind, the criminals we have to be afraid of are the smartones. And the smart hackers use 10-12 proxy servers to hide their identity (and even the dumber ones, it is easy to set up), making it almost impossible to mine their data correctly. And smart criminals or potential terrorists in the any of the previously named countries will encrypt their encryption. These kinds of demands like Saudi Arabia and India make do not prevent crime, it will drive the feared criminals to become even more cunning, and more difficult to trace and get behind bars.
The only people who are suffering from a decision like that, just like with the Raptor program, are the people who are not planning anything, who are not aware of anything, and just live on. It is then our lives that loses another bit of privacy.
But, from another perspective, when people provide more information about themselves than anyone should on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, I might be a lonely soul shouting in the desert. But not on my BlackBerry at least.