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French Fear The Blackberry

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Since servers for the addictive Blackberry wireless mail service reside in places like the United States, some government workers in France have been told to eschew using those devices.

The French government has some insecurity issues when it comes to their Blackberries. They are afraid that the messages passing through Research In Motion’s servers can be compromised by foreign agents, presumably the NSA and CIA among others.

A BBC report said the popular Blackberry devices, used by millions of people to keep up with their email, have been declared out of bounds for use by French government officials. The edict has met with less enthusiasm than pairing red wine with seafood at dinner:

But some officials are flouting the ban and using them in secret, it adds.

“They tried to offer us something else to replace our Blackberries but it doesn’t work,” one unnamed official told (Le Monde).

RIM has defended its solution by citing its encryption and its approval by NATO and several national governments on security grounds. They also told the BBC that the NSA, America’s agency responsible for breaking encrypted communications, can’t view Blackberry messages.

One has to wonder if allegations that AT&T provided the NSA with unfettered access to Internet traffic has influenced the French paranoia. It is likely encrypted traffic heading out of the US to foreign destinations would pique the interest of the codebreakers working at Fort Meade.

The timing of the French complaint, well over a year after the Electronic Frontier Foundation dropped AT&T documents onto the judge’s bench in their class-action spying case, should also be cause for wonder. Did some piece of private information somehow become public after having been sent to or from a Blackberry? The report does not say.

French Fear The Blackberry
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