Recently a number of governments have threatened to ban Research in Motion’s BlackBerry services if the company does not make encrypted BlackBerry data and other content available to state authorities . A
major concern of these regimes is that BlackBerry data can be encrypted and routed through servers located outside of their jurisdictions. Unconfirmed reports have circulated that RIM has made data sharing agreements with India and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Other countries are also requesting the company locate data centres within their jurisdictions.
The RIM Check web site is a research project designed to gather information on how traffic exits the BlackBerry network depending on the country in which the user is located. The findings from this project will be published and made publicly available.
The project is being conducted by the Information Warfare Monitor and the Web site is maintained by the (Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto).
The RIM Check project is inspired by a broad need to monitor the activities of private sector actors that own and operate cyberspace, particularly as they come under increasing pressure to cooperate with governments on national surveillance and censorship laws, policies, and requests. Decisions taken by private sector actors, often at the behest of governments seeking access to their data or assistance blocking Web sites, can have major consequences for human rights. These decisions can lack transparency and public accountability. This project is meant to address that lack of transparency.
The project is exploratory in nature and meant to test hypotheses. Researchers of the Information Warfare Monitor project will analyze the data collected from the Web site over an extended period of time. Other methods are in development to supplement data collected through the RIM Check web site. Field research and policy analysis will also be employed to complement the technical collection activities. The Information Warfare Monitor will also be analyzing for evidence of content filtering on Blackberry devices.
For further reading see:
Ron Deibert, Cyberspace Confidential, August 6 2010, Globe and Mail
Danny O’Brien, Why governments don’t need RIM to crack the BlackBerry,
August 3, 2010, Committee to Protect Journalists
Full RIM customer statement on BlackBerry security issues
About the Information Warfare Monitor
The Information Warfare Monitor is public-private venture between two Canadian institutions: the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto and The SecDev Group, an operational think tank based in a Ottawa (Canada). The Information Warfare Monitor is an advanced research activity tracking the emergence of cyberspace as a strategic domain. We are an independent research effort. Our mission is to build and broaden the evidence base available to scholars, policy makers, and others. We aim to educate