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Canadian Police Have Had Access to BlackBerry’s Global Decryption Key Since 2010

Justin Ling and Jordan Pearson, reporting for Vice:

According to technical reports by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that were filed in court, law enforcement intercepted and decrypted roughly one million PIN-to-PIN BlackBerry messages in connection with the probe. The report doesn’t disclose exactly where the key — effectively a piece of code that could break the encryption on virtually any BlackBerry message sent from one device to another — came from. But, as one police officer put it, it was a key that could unlock millions of doors.

Government lawyers spent almost two years fighting in a Montreal courtroom to keep this information out of the public record.

And while neither the RCMP nor BlackBerry confirmed that the cellphone manufacturer handed over the global encryption key, and both fought against a judge’s order to release more information about their working relationship, the Crown prosecutors admitted that the federal police service had access to the key.

This is why more recent messaging protocols, like iMessage and WhatsApp, are designed without a “golden key”.

Thursday, 14 April 2016