The major selling point for BlackBerry has always been its security and privacy - the way it encrypted communication across its network was the only game in town - that is, until 2010, when governments threatened to “block encrypted BlackBerry corporate e-mail and messaging services” unless their security agencies were granted access to them.
This was the beginning of the demise of Blackberry. Because of The Surveillance State’s inability to spy on their own citizens, governments forced BlackBerry to change their business model, which in turn played a major role in the company’s collapse.
Ironic, considering the latest announcement from the U.S. Defense Department that approximately 98% of their smartphone purchases for their new network will be from BlackBerry because they offer the best option in the industry for secure communication.
I. What’s Going On
Corporations are taking advantage of these times by changing their privacy policies so that they can track us, use us, and sell us whatever their algorithms decide that we need or want based on data they have acquired about our movements, contacts, desires, fantasies, or kinks. Governments on the other hand are using our data to make sure that we will never acquire enough power to change any policies that we deem to be a threat to our happiness, livelihood, or survival. In essence, we are at war with these organizations and we should act as such:
“…this is truly unprecedented in history. And what we’re seeing is secrecy and surveillance are completely subverting security and liberty, not just in the United States, but for many, many citizens around the world.”
In a sign of things to come for the U.S. tech industry, Ladar Levison, the owner of Lavabit, the secure private encrypted email provider that shut down after 10 years of operation (2, 3) because he decided not to abide by the demands made by the United States government to spy on their 400,000 plus users, explains that if he loses his case against the U.S. government he will most likely hand over his company to someone overseas and let them run it. It’s important to note that the U.S. government already new that this would be the end result, that revelations about NSA’s PRISM program would hurt American Technology companies, but they didn’t really care.
Levison clarifies his position in the following interview on Democracy Now!. The segment in which he makes these comments occurs at approximately the 11 minute mark, but the whole interview is well worth watching, especially the part just before these comments where he explains how the U.S. government is “remotely loading malware onto people’s computers without any kind of restriction, restraint or oversight.”
Being from Canada, interested in technology and the markets, and a privacy advocate, BlackBerry, formerly known as Research In Motion (RIM), has been on my radar for a number of years, so I would like to add my two cents regarding its demise (2, 3, 4, 5).
The two most important things we need to keep in mind about the “timeline of the company from RIM to Blackberry” are that: first, “when phone systems failed in New York and DC on 9/11, it was the BlackBerry network that provided backup communication”; second, contrary to popular belief, apps were never meant to be the feature selling point for its products, it was its security and privacy, the way it encrypted communication across its network that made it the only game in town.
In 2010, when governments threatened to “block encrypted BlackBerry corporate e-mail and messaging services if its security agencies were not granted access to them”, BlackBerry’s reply was:
“RIM also said it has drawn a firm line by insisting that any capabilities it provides to carriers for ‘lawful’ access purposes be limited by four main principles: Such access has to be legal, it must not exceed access imposed on RIM's competitors, it does not change the security architecture for Blackberry enterprise customers, and does not require a country-specific deal that does not conform to RIM's global standard for lawful access.”
By Rady Ananda
A single smart meter measuring a home’s electricity usage, by appliance, emits radiation 100 times higher than the level internationally recognized as “extreme concern” and 450 times higher than a cell phone.
It’s not the act of revealing secrets that has gotten Edward Snowden in trouble, after all, members of the Bush Administration did exactly that in the Plame affair as did members of the Obama Administration by leaking the drone memo. Leaking classified documents doesn’t always lead to prosecution, on the contrary, sometimes it leads to advancement of personal agendas:
“Does the rule of law demand that leaks of highly classified information be prosecuted? If so, John Brennan and many other current and former national-security officials had better be given orange jumpsuits. They weren't even leaking to alert Americans to behavior that they found immoral. Often times, the U.S. national security establishment leaks to exploit a political advantage.”
By Steve Scheetz and Rady Ananda
Since September 11, 2001, the US government has been operating with a demand for the understanding of the people. We, as part of this demand, are to allow certain limitations on our liberty in order to gain a certain level of security. But, given the questionable nature of what are likely exaggerated threats, coupled with Congressional enrichment from these expensive security technologies, the U.S. public is losing both liberty and security, as well as money.
Former director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge revealed details about how terrorism alerts are used. Among other things, Ridge admits that he was pressured to raise the terror alert to help Bush win re-election in 2004. According to the Associated Press, “He said the episode convinced him to follow through with his plans to leave the administration; he resigned on Nov. 30, 2004.”
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