updated 07:25 am EDT, Tue August 9, 2011
RIM promises to assist police in wake of riots
RIM has said that it will co-operate with police investigations into the instigators of the London riots, according to The Guardian. London's metro police claim that perpetrators of the riots used RIM's encrypted BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service, possibly knowing that it would be difficult for police to track their communications. RIM's managing director of regional marketing, Patrick Spence, confirmed via Twitter that contact had been made between the police and RIM.
"We feel for those impacted by the riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can," Spence said. He added that RIM complies with UK legislation on the interception of communication and co-operates fully with the Home Office.
The riots in Tottenham are believed to have been largely organized through the BBM service, where previous signs of unrest had been predominantly organized through Twitter and Facebook.
RIM's BBM service has been the subject of considerable scrutiny by various governments around the world, including those on the Asian continent and in the Middle East. The encryption that RIM uses on the service is extremely difficult to crack. RIM itself has claimed that it cannot unscramble the encryption it uses, helping to assure users that even it couldn't snoop on its customers.
After the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008, the Indian government was concerned that terrorists could potentially use the service to coordinate attacks using a mechanism that was almost impossible for them to carry out electronic surveillance to counter any potential threat. RIM avoided a ban in India by allowing the Indian government to lawfully intercept its BBM services.
A recent survey of the UK communications market showed that RIM's BlackBerry was the most popular smartphone among UK's teenagers. The preference for BlackBerry among teenagers was reportedly the popularity of RIM's BBM service, which offers free messaging between BlackBerry devices.