BlackBerry CEO bashes Apple's data privacy policies

Posted:
in General Discussion
In a post to Blackberry's official blog on Thursday, CEO John Chen slammed tech companies like Apple that "put their reputations over the greater good" by providing -- and advertising -- strong encryption and data privacy policies to all users, even criminals.


Headquarters of RIM, now BlackBerry, in Waterloo, Ontario. | Source: The Globe and Mail


Chen didn't go so far as to name Apple outright, but he did point to a recent development in which "one of the world's most powerful tech companies" refused law enforcement requests to unlock a smartphone belonging to a known drug dealer.

At the time, Apple told a U.S. District Court it is "substantially burdensome" to gain access to an iPhone running iOS 8 or iOS 9, as the operating system features full-disk encryption. The iPhone in question was still on iOS 7, meaning Apple could technically extract data with a lawful warrant, but a lawyer representing the company said that doing so would "substantially tarnish the brand."

"We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good," Chen said. "At BlackBerry, we understand, arguably more than any other large tech company, the importance of our privacy commitment to product success and brand value: privacy and security form the crux of everything we do. However, our privacy commitment does not extend to criminals." (Emphasis in original)

Chen went on to say tech companies and firms providing encrypted services, such as messaging app Telegram, have a responsibility to cooperate with law enforcement efforts. At least to a certain degree. Despite his takedown of Apple's strict privacy policy, it seems Chen is on board with the company's highly public stance against government snooping.

"We have never allowed government access to our servers and never will," he said, adding that BlackBerry has exited certain markets whose governments require unfettered access to private data. Last month BlackBerry announced plans to pull out of Pakistan because authorities there wanted to a backdoor for monitoring all BlackBerry Enterprise Service communications in the region.

Apple has been a vocal opponent of proposals by the U.S. government to install software backdoors into encrypted services. CEO Tim Cook has on various occasions said the idea of legal backdoors is a non-starter, as it completely undermines the notion of strong encryption.

Going further, Chen argues against calls for encryption bans or disablement of certain encryption methods. Instead of surfacing nefarious activity, a ban on encryption would only impact law-abiding citizens, as criminals would simply create their own encrypted apps.

Chen admits he doesn't have the answer to striking a balance between absolute data privacy and ethical sharing with law enforcement agencies.

"We all have a right to privacy as well as public protection. We must balance these, and the world's tech leaders must help consumers and governments alike make informed decisions," Chen said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    Doesn't he have more important things to focus on--like keeping his company out of bankruptcy.
    slprescottIanMC2mwhitedamn_its_hotredgeminipamagman1979pscooter63jbdragondysamoriajony0
  • Reply 2 of 35
    So, CEO's usually have handlers to keep them in line. Which makes me wonder if he just ignored his, or if BBY literally can't afford to pay any. 
  • Reply 3 of 35
    Blackberry? Their still circling the drain? "Chen admits he doesn't have the answer to striking a balance between absolute data privacy and ethical sharing with law enforcement agencies." Chen will probably figure it out by his next gig at the other tech juggernaut, Amiga.
    mwhitejbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 35
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,152member
    "We have never allowed government access to our servers and never will,"

    That's a big lie. BB gives UAE and Saudi Arabia governments full access to their servers in those countries so they can spy on their citizens. BB CEOs never denied that. 


    hydrogenmrboba1redgeminipamagman1979jbdragonjony0
  • Reply 5 of 35
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Sounds like desperation. How? By brainless trash talk. Apple cares for privacy, Bad Bad Apple. Maybe I should buy a Blackberry droid.

    "Chen didn't go so far as to name Apple outright, but he did point to a recent development in which "one of the world's most powerful tech companies" refused law enforcement requests to unlock a smartphone belonging to a known drug dealer. "

    How did law officials solve crimes before cell phones??
    lostkiwiIanMC2redgeminipajbdragondysamoria
  • Reply 6 of 35
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member
    If you were in politics or had corporate secrets to protect, would you buy a BlackBerry or an iPhone with those kind of statements coming from Mr. Chen? What were you thinking dude? 
    edited December 2015 cornchiplostkiwicaliredgeminipajbdragondysamoria
  • Reply 7 of 35
    anomeanome Posts: 1,170member
    cali said:
    Sounds like desperation. How? By brainless trash talk. Apple cares for privacy, Bad Bad Apple. Maybe I should buy a Blackberry droid.

    "Chen didn't go so far as to name Apple outright, but he did point to a recent development in which "one of the world's most powerful tech companies" refused law enforcement requests to unlock a smartphone belonging to a known drug dealer. "

    How did law officials solve crimes before cell phones??
    By beating confessions out of suspects...or at least they did until the whole Miranda thing.
  • Reply 8 of 35
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    anome said:
    cali said:
    Sounds like desperation. How? By brainless trash talk. Apple cares for privacy, Bad Bad Apple. Maybe I should buy a Blackberry droid.

    "Chen didn't go so far as to name Apple outright, but he did point to a recent development in which "one of the world's most powerful tech companies" refused law enforcement requests to unlock a smartphone belonging to a known drug dealer. "

    How did law officials solve crimes before cell phones??
    By beating confessions out of suspects...or at least they did until the whole Miranda thing.
    They still do. I was being sarcastic seeing how they seem to rely on Apple now.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 9 of 35
    They cannot even afford to change the name on their headquarters! (Or is that an old pic?)
  • Reply 10 of 35
    "The Greater Good"?  Who is Chang to determine what the greater good is?

    Cooperate to a certain degree?  What degree?

    Chen should focus on keeping Blackberry alive before they go under instead of playing judge, jury and executioner.

    dysamoria
  • Reply 11 of 35
    I'm sorry Mr. Chen but privacy trumps drug enforcement in my mind.  You just undermined BB's last reason to exist...security from search and seizure.
    jbdragondysamoria
  • Reply 12 of 35
    I guess the Government is the only place left to go when your company loses market share. I guess we found out that Blackberry is not only anti-privacy, but pro war on drugs.
    jbdragondysamoria
  • Reply 13 of 35
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,506member
    How do they know they're criminals if a trial is in progress?
    redgeminipadysamoria
  • Reply 14 of 35
    Law enforcement and security authorities have no end of powerful forensic tools to decrypt any smartphone, no matter how locked down with encryption they may be.

    The current demands to require back door access are simply an attempt to fob off the expense and responsibility to the smartphone manufacturers, so that all they need is a court order, or even nothing more than an email request or phone call, to gain access to anyone's private information.

    Their targets (criminals and terrorists) constitute such a tiny percentage of society after all, so it is worrying how these sweeping powers over the majority of law-abiding citizens' private information are to be used or misused if granted without checks and balances.
    edited December 2015 dysamoria
  • Reply 15 of 35
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,371member
    "The Greater Good"?  Who is Chang to determine what the greater good is?

    Cooperate to a certain degree?  What degree?

    Chen should focus on keeping Blackberry alive before they go under instead of playing judge, jury and executioner.


    Quite so. Not only is Chen that type who are so sure of their virtue that they know what the greater good is, he also can apparently know who are criminals even before they are convicted, and ( this is very important) that the government would only ever target the bad guys.  
    edited December 2015 radarthekatredgeminipadysamoria
  • Reply 16 of 35
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,710moderator
    There's a brain scanning technique that can determine if you've previously seen an image that you are shown a picture of.  Future law enforcement might wish to use this to show a suspect a picture of a murder scene, to determine whether the suspect's brain registers recognition and therefore provides evidence the suspect was at the murder scene.  Interesting, from a scientific standpoint, but scary from the point of view of privacy. 

    The notion that data inside our brains might be available for inspection is going to one day be a public policy debate. Better to start that debate now, with our mobile phones and the very personal data they encrypt acting as a proxy for our minds. I know which side of that debate I fall on; a person should have the right to private thoughts, those he/she chooses not to share with the world. 

    The fact that some of our thoughts are held in silicon rather than our neurons should make little difference.  I say our personal devices should be seen as an extension of our minds, sacrosanct from forced inspection.

    ---

    My criteria for listening to someone like Chen is that he must have at least as broad and nuanced a view as my own (stated above), which doesn't necessarily have to agree with mine, but at least shows thinking on the broader issue and its implications for society and the future.  If he can't, or won't, speak to the underlying issue and give his views relative to that, but instead merely brings up the subject as a means of taking a stab at his competition, that's the clearest sign he knows little of what he speaks.  
    pscooter63
  • Reply 17 of 35
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,790member
    What the ....

    If the author put this Chen quote right at the top of the article:

    "Chen admits he doesn't have the answer to striking a balance between absolute data privacy and ethical sharing with law enforcement agencies"

    it would save AI readers having to read all the intervening blowhole emissions.
    redgeminipaapplepieguy
  • Reply 18 of 35
    I do not agree with Apple's position regarding data either. Can someone please tell me when the government or law enforcement agencies have used data to wrong its citizens? The constitution is fucking outdated people and needs to evolve with the times.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    g-newsg-news Posts: 1,107member
    This is surprising coming from a company that used to promote their products for having the highest security. Back when they still had an actual business, that is.
    redgeminipajbdragonapplepieguy
  • Reply 20 of 35
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    I do not agree with Apple's position regarding data either. Can someone please tell me when the government or law enforcement agencies have used data to wrong its citizens? The constitution is fucking outdated people and needs to evolve with the times.
    Are you for real!!!! When? When have they not. Good grief.
    redgeminipamagman1979jbdragonapplepieguy
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