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Religious Watch


3rd August
2010
  

Update: Bury Berry...

UAE, Saudi and India whinge about not being able to snoop on BlackBerry phone users

BlackBerry 8520 Sim Free Mobile Phone Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry service may be banned in India unless the Canadian company agrees to allow India to snoop on usres, according to a government official with direct knowledge of the matter.

India has told Research In Motion to set up a proxy server in the country to enable security agencies to monitor e-mail trafficl.

RIM has the best encryption, significant subscribers, and a brand that's known across the world, said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner Inc. in Mumbai.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company has assured the Indian government that it will address the nation's snooping requirements.

Mint newspaper earlier reported the government is considering banning mobile e-mail services including BlackBerry.

The company faced obstacles recently in Pakistan, where the national telecommunications regulator said it blocked Internet browsers on BlackBerry handsets, citing supposed concerns over blasphemy.

Moves against BlackBerry in Saudi and UAE

Based on article from dailymail.co.uk

More than a million BlackBerry owners are to have services cut in two Gulf states after authorities demanded access to spy on users.

Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are to prevent the use of the instant messaging service between the handsets. And the UAE will also block emails being sent and bar internet access on the smartphones.

There are an estimated 500,000 BlackBerry users in the UAE, and 700,000 in Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi Arabia in particular, BlackBerry handsets have become the must-have gizmo for Saudi youths. They enable them to connect with members of the opposite sex in a deeply conservative society.

The Saudi move will begin later this month. Abdulrahman Mazi, a board member of state-controlled Saudi Telecom, has admitted that the decision is intended to put pressure on Blackberry's Canadian owner, Research in Motion (RIM), to release data from users' communications when needed .

The UAE's telecoms regulator, TRA, said some Blackberry services would be suspended from October 11.

 

5th August
2010
  

Update: Friendly Berry...

RIM concedes BlackBerry email snooping powers to India but not UAE

BlackBerry 8520 Sim Free Mobile Phone RIM has added India to the list of countries with which it's prepared to share data, and will help Kuwait block porn sites, but still hasn't opened its services up to the UAE.

Indian security forces will be able to intercept emails sent and received by BlackBerry users, within 15 days, as Reuters reports the country has been added to RIM's list of acceptable governments.

BlackBerry users enjoy unparalleled security in their email services, with email stored on RIM's servers and encrypted all the way to the handset. If you want to intercept mail you need access to the handset, or the servers, which is difficult when the former is in the hands of the user and the latter is in a different country.

The UAE-owned operator, Etisalat, did try to get snooping software onto BlackBerry handsets with a faked upgrade that failed in spectacular fashion. That really annoyed RIM, so now the UAE government faces crawling to RIM to ask for access to the servers, or just banning the devices from the country.

 

9th August
2010
  

Update: Friendly Berry...

RIM concedes BlackBerry email snooping powers to Saudi

Saudi flagRIM Blackberry services have been restored in Saudi Arabia, reports say.

The authorities object to the devices because they operate an encrypted message service meaning that communication from Blackberry devices cannot be monitored.

The BBC's Ben Thompson, in Dubai, said that there are conflicting reports about why the handsets are currently working again.

Services are up and running again across the country, he confirmed: But inevitably, that raises more questions than it answers. If RIM did grant Saudi Arabia access to its security codes, other countries in the region would now expect the same.

RIM has been contacted by the BBC. In a statement earlier this week a spokesperson for the company said that the devices were deliberately designed to prevent anybody from accessing individual message data, which is stored on servers in Canada: RIM cannot accommodate any request for a copy of a customer's encryption key, since at no time does RIM, or any wireless network operator or any third party, ever possess a copy of the key. [Then how do they so easily seem to be conceding snooping rights to India and Saudi?]

 

14th August
2010
  

Update: Snoop Friendly...

India wants keys to snoop on email and messaging

India flagResearch in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, is headed for a showdown with the Indian government, which has revived a threat to shut off service in the country in a row over access to customers' emails.

India has toughened its position in the wake of reports that RIM has agreed to give the government of Saudi Arabia access to some of the codes with which BlackBerry customer data is encrypted when it passes across the Canadian firm's server network.

A string of emerging markets governments have been demanding RIM provide additional co-operation with their police and security services to allow snooping of email and instant message traffic, in the name of national security.

India's home ministry has summoned the country's telecoms operators to a meeting today to discuss access to their BlackBerry users' data, and is expected to demand a deadline for RIM to share encryption details, with the threat of a suspension of some services if the deadline is not met. A senior government official told Reuters that the operators could be told to shut down RIM's corporate email and messenger services temporarily as a last resort. If they cannot provide a solution, we'll ask operators to stop that specific service, the source said. The service can be resumed when they give us the solution.

Google and Skype Next

Based on article from independent.co.uk

Google logoIndia may shut down Google and Skype Internet-based messaging services over security concerns, the Financial Times reported.

The Financial Times quoted from the minutes of a July 12 meeting between telecommunication ministry security officials and operator associations to look at possible solutions to intercept and monitor encrypted communications.

There was consensus that there more than one type of service for which solutions are to be explored. Some of them are BlackBerry, Skype, Google etc, according to the department's minutes. It was decided first to undertake the issue of BlackBerry and then the other services.

India has set an August 31 deadline for RIM. It wants access in a readable format to encrypted BlackBerry communication, on grounds it could be used by militants. Pakistani-based militants used mobile and satellite phones in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

Officials say RIM had proposed tracking emails without sharing encryption details, but that was not enough.

 

1st September
2010
  

Update: BlackBerry BlackOut...

Indonesia joins the anti-BlackBerry bandwagon

Indonesia flagThe war in Indonesia over the available of pornography on mobile devices has resulted in Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring threatening to kick BlackBerry out of the country. He wants parent company Research in Motion (RiM) to agree to block all porn from the devices.

The minister has said that he had communicated to RiM his wishes, but has yet to receive a reply.

If they are still not responding to our request, we have to close it down, Tifatul said, adding, RIM may violates our law if it remains providing porn content in its service [in Indonesia].

Earlier this month, Titaful urged RiM to set up servers in the country. The servers were needed, he claimed, in order to perform wiretaps in crime cases, bringing in non-tax revenue for the country and reducing service charges for customers. They would also make it much easier for the government to block porn locally.

 

3rd September
2010
  

Updated: Snoop Friendly...

BlackBerry enables snooping for the Indian authorities

India flagThe Indian government has lifted a threat to block certain BlackBerry communication services following moves by the technology firm Research in Motion that could allow the country's security authorities greater access to snoop on messages.

Stepping back from the brink of a crackdown, India's ministry of home affairs said RIM had made certain proposals for lawful access by law enforcement agencies and these would be operationalised immediately . It did not offer any detail on these concessions

Following RIM's apparent concessions, the Indian government said today the situation would be reviewed in 60 days' time. It added that the country's telecoms ministry was examining whether all the subcontinent's BlackBerry communications could be routed through a server physically located in India.

Update: Wider Issues

3rd September 2010. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

Google logoIndia has toughened its scrutiny of telecoms firms with a directive demanding access to everything .

An Indian Home Ministry official told the BBC that any company with a telecoms network should be accessible . It could be Google or Skype, but anyone operating in India will have to provide data, he said.

The move follows high-profile talks with Blackberry maker Research in Motion about ways to allow Indian security forces to monitor data.

The government is also likely to target virtual private networks, which give secure access to company networks for employees working away from their offices.

Update: UN

3rd September 2010. Based on article from  thescotsman.scotsman.com

UN logoThe head of the UN's telecommunications agency is urging BlackBerry's manufacturer to allow foreign law enforcement agencies access to its customers' data.

Hamadoun Toure says governments fighting terrorism have the right to demand access.

 

25th April
2011
  

Update: Blackberry Squashed...

RIM now blocks porn websites in Indonesia

Indonesia flagBowing to pressure from the Indonesian government, Research in Motion (RIM) is now filtering porn from its BlackBerry devices.

The company is reportedly cooperating with the Indonesia's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that put pressure on RIM last January threatening to ask the six domestic telecommunications operators of BlackBerry's Internet services in Indonesia to stop supporting the company if it didn't block porn.

A report said the new filter is getting mixed reviews but it doesn't appear it will have a major impact on BlackBerry use in the country.

Update: Indonesia still unhappy

17th December 2011. See  article from  zdnet.com

The Indonesian government has again threatened to shut down BlackBerry services in the region, as the company has not been cooperative , the Jakarta Post reports.

This decision likely comes as a result of Research in Motion (RIM) opting to build their latest datacenter in neighbouring Singapore, despite it having a much smaller BlackBerry consumer market.

RIM had agreed with the government that it would establish a datacenter by December 31st as part of a series of agreements decided upon in September. However it was not specified that RIM would necessarily build the server on Indonesian soil, but it was expected due to Indonesia having the largest number of BlackBerry users in the south-east Asia market.

All BlackBerry data is processed through Research in Motion's datacenters in Canada, which allows the data to be uniquely secure; something that no other network offers. It also means however that the Indonesian government does not have access to the data.

 

22nd October
2011
  

Update: Blackberry Less of a Treat...

RIM agrees to block porn in Kuwait

Kuwait flag RIM, the Toronto-based maker of BlackBerry phones, has reached an agreement with the Kuwaiti communication ministry to block porn sites from its devices by the end of the year.

News of the block was reported Reporters Without Borders, which warns that non-porn websites could be blocked as a result of overblocking. Reporters Without Borders has called on the Ministry of Communication to rescind the measure, which has been worked on for about a year.

 

21st December
2011
  

Updated: Open Access...

UK BlackBerry phone users are not subject to age verification before access to adult websites

BlackBerry Curve 8520 Free Smartphone Last week my attention was drawn to a notice which had been put up on 3's web site. It reads as follows

Note: If you're using a BlackBerry, we can't put a filter on your phone. This is because BlackBerry apply their own settings to access the internet

Why had this caveat appeared out of the blue where previously there had been nothing? Had something changed? If so, what and when?

At first everyone started clamming up. I took that as a sure sign. Then finally two networks confirmed that, right now, they believe none of their BlackBerry users are covered either by the adult content blocking policy or by the IWF list blocking policy. Another network said they believed some BlackBerry models were still covered but they acknowledged not all of their BlackBerry users are any more.

Why have Blackberry decided to stop running services which keeps adult sites away from children or indeed anyone who has not asked for the adult bar to be lifted? And what exactly is the position with the IWF list? When did universal coverage under either or both headings cease to be a fact? Was it ever a fact?

Was OFCOM, CEOP, the Government or anyone in authority informed of any changes to what was very widely understood to be the status quo? If not why not? This is a scandal which risks putting a big dent in the credibility of the whole notion of self-regulation of the internet in the UK, if not elsewhere as well.

My understanding is that all of the UK's mobile phone networks have been tearing their hair out trying to get RIM to sit down with them and resolve this but it hasn't happened. Meanwhile what are the networks to do? Cut off all of their customers who use BlackBerry devices? I am sure some people will say that is exactly what they should have done but I think that is rather an extreme view and it ought not to be necessary when RIM have it within their gift to avoid it.

Should the mobile networks have warned parents or the public or some of their customers?

Blackberry has some explaining to do.

...Read the full article

Update: Summonsed

18th December 2011. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

Ofcom logo BlackBerry has been summoned to a meeting with the internet censors at Ofcom after it emerged that its internet feed is provided without age restrictions.

Research in Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry, will be joined at the summit by the leading mobile networks at the summit called by the telecommunications regulator.

It was brought to our attention that there was a problem, an Ofcom spokesman said: It is to do with the way in which the BlackBerry operating system works. We are very concerned and want to get this resolved as quickly as possible.

While mobile phone operators have been able to apply filters to other handsets such as the iPhone, they have been unable to do so on the BlackBerry. This is because data flows through the BlackBerry's own services rather than those provided by the networks. It is understood that RIM did offer its own filtering system to UK networks, but this has only been taken up by T-Mobile.

Update: Blocking Report

21st December 2011. See  article from  news.techworld.com

RIM logo Ofcom have had their first meeting with RIM on the subject of website blocking. The meeting was attended by all the UK mobile operators and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). A second meeting has been scheduled for the New Year to check on progress.

An Ofcom spokesperson reported to Techworld that, although RIM was blocking access to those URLs flagged up by the IWF, it does not currently prevent access to adult content by default.

RIM explained it is now working on new parental control features that will give parents the ability to control and restrict their children's use of various services and applications on BlackBerry smartphones. Integrated parental control features will be provided in future versions of BlackBerry 7, and BlackBerry App World 3.1 also offers content rating and filtering options for applications based on the CTIA Wireless Association's Guidelines for App Content Classification and Ratings .