RIM

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Blog   |   China, India, Internet, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE

Use your Blackberry to map global surveillance

The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab has announced a research project to analyze the global infrastructure of Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry. It's looking for BlackBerry users from any country to take part--especially those in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Russia and China.

All of these countries have at some point demanded that RIM make their BlackBerry network more surveillance-friendly. Some have threatened to ban BlackBerry services outright if their demands are not met. Other reports suggest that RIM has made concessions to some of these countries' demands.

One possible concession RIM might make is to move its Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) servers to locations within those countries' jurisdictions. BIS servers are the bridges between the internal BlackBerry network and the wider Internet. A locally-hosted BIS server would make it easier for domestic security services to monitor BlackBerry users' general Web traffic.

RIM has kept quiet about what agreements, if any, it has made with any government. Nevertheless, it is theoretically possible to work out the location of these BIS servers externally. If you're a journalist who uses a BlackBerry, all you have to do to help with this project is to visit the RimCheck website using your BlackBerry device and fill out a short form. The site will record the IP address of the machine your request comes from, and will attempt to determine where in the world that server could be located.

The conclusions that the RIM Check project draws from this study will be published when the group has collected enough data. Concrete statistics like this will mean we'll finally be able to see if BlackBerry's send their data exclusively through Canadian servers as some believe or whether RIM has distributed these servers globally--potentially allowing users' unencrypted Net traffic to be as monitorable as that sent through a local Internet service provider.
October 21, 2010 5:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, USA

U.S. proposals undermine secure, uncensored Internet

UPDATE, OCTOBER 22, 2010: CPJ's board of directors sets policy for the organization. At the October 18 meeting of the board, directors discussed the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, known as COICA.

The September 30 blog post below incorrectly stated that CPJ had "joined with other press freedom and civil liberty organizations and the Internet's pioneering engineers to urge the U.S. Senate to reject COICA in its current form." After discussion, the board determined that CPJ should take no position on the proposed legislation at this time. The matter was referred to the CPJ policy committee for further review.

A bill sponsored by Sens. Hatch, left, and Leahy could damage a free Internet. (AP file)

Blog   |   Dubai, Internet, Oman, UAE

More on RIM

Another piece on RIM by the Guardian, this time reporting that the UAE were after BlackBerry messaging info, because of its use in spreading gossip about high-profile Emiratis. These quotes (translated here) from Dubai's police chief, Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, where he says the ban was also "meant to control false rumors and defamation of public figures due to absence of surveillance", tend to confirm that.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Oman has banned Virtual Private Networks (commonly used to give correspondents access to the company network back home). Not surprising, given that Oman supposedly already bans the use of encryption. Will it go after the banks next?

September 3, 2010 8:42 PM ET

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Blog   |   Canada, India, India, Internet, Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA

What should journalists know about BlackBerry fights?

A Blackberry logo is prominently displayed in Ahmadabad, India. (AP)

The discussions between Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, and governments such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and India continue to hit the headlines. In each case, disagreements center on providing customer communications to security and law enforcement services. The rumblings from these nations over monitoring powers aren't just limited to RIM: India has announced its intention to put the same pressure on Google (for Gmail), and Skype (for its IM and telephony services).

September 1, 2010 5:33 PM ET

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4 results