BlackBerry rejects political moves to ban strong encryption

BlackBerry has rejected political moves to ban strong encryption, saying that it’s a short-sighted policy that would not serve companies or governments.

British Prime Minster David Cameron recently indicated that his government was intent on banning encryption as politicians battle extremists who often use anonymous online tools for communication.

“It’s like banning walking sticks because somebody decided to bash his partner on the head with one. There is going to be a fraction of the population who is going to take something and use it negatively,” said Nader Henein, who is responsible for advanced security solutions at the advisory division at BlackBerry.

Henein argued that the threat of extremists alone does not justify compromising a security platform used by government and business leaders to share documents and communicate.

“The question here now is: ‘Is it worth changing an entire ecosystem so that you disable the 0,01%?’ Are they going to stop what they’re doing because encryption is no longer there? No.

“Extremism has been around since well before encryption and it’s going to continue to be there until we evolve into something else.”

The “clipper chip” and key escrow were two technologies developed by the early 1990s which were marketed as encryption devices but were built with back doors that US government agencies such as the National Security Agency could access.

“Those two things were grossly fought down by the industry,” Henein said of the efforts to enforce those tools as standards.

He argued that even if one government insisted on a particular tunnel for encryption technology, there was no uniform global standard that could be implemented and enforced.

“If you pass legislation in Europe that weakens the security of those products, two things are going to happen: companies are going to move out of Europe and customers are not going to buy your product.”

Politicians will have to adjust to the reality that more encrypted communications will be used on the internet, said Henein.

“Politicians can talk about the problems they face with new technology, but they’re just going to have to find new solutions to adjust, rather than suppressing technology which is a bad idea, and really I don’t think is doable. The genie is out of the box.”

BlackBerry is unambiguous about its position on the security of its products like BES12.

“I can say unequivocally that we have no intention of introducing weaknesses into our product at the enterprise level,” Henein said.


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