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UN Telecom Chief Steps Into The BlackBerry Encryption Mess

UN Telecom It just keeps on getting better and better. I have always heard that the UN is relatively clueless and passes some ridiculous resolutions but now their Telecommunications Chief decided to comment on the whole BlackBerry encryption issue going on in India and the middle east. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if he didn’t offer such an idiotic opinion.

According to the AP, Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunications Union, said that RIM should give law enforcement agencies around the world access to its customers data. According to him these lawful agencies need to access this data to fight terrorism. He told the AP:

Those are genuine requests. There is a need for cooperation between governments and the private sector on security issues.

I just don’t get these kinds of requests. Since the release of PGP and other encryption technologies governments have been forced to accept that there is data they will not be able to access. There are no two ways about it. You can pick up hundreds of solutions that are totally free online to communicate with an encryption strength that is un-crack-able currently.

Maybe Toure should be concerned about these “genuine requests” and ask Cisco to stop selling VPN  or firewall software? Or ask Microsoft to stop including VPN and other encryption options in Windows? Or block every website that lets you download encryption programs like OpenSSH, TrueCrypt, GnuPG, PGP, … the list goes on and on.

I wonder how the UN would feel if they suddenly made all UN and NATO communication like email have an encryption backdoor? Then they could offer the solution to Iran because they have a “genuine interest” in knowing what sanctions will be placed on them next. What do you think?

7 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I think Laz was right. These people really ARE this stupid.

  2. Oh hey Ronen, since the UN is there in NYC, you should find out where we can write to have them hire YOU for this guys likely quarter to half million $ per year job. You obviously know more about this stuff than this shmuck.

    You have my address already to send my 10% finders fee check when you take the job… :)

  3. A rabbit hole? A can of worms? I can find a zillion metaphors to describe the stupidity of this discussion from the UN. This is way beyond clueless!

    As DavidB suggested, Laz made it clear that this isn’t just us! I’ll paraphrase, “If they can’t handle the Internet, then shut it down.” That’s the bottom line.

  4. I really like your insights on this. You really should send them somewhere they can have the right impact.

  5. The UN’s opinion on this isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. The problem with the UN is that every country gets 1 vote, no matter how corrupt or dictatorial it is. I’d much rather support an organization that was limited to actual constitutional democracies/republics.

  6. Wonder why NASSCOM (India’s Software companies’ association) is silent on this whole issue. They have a huge political following. And here in India, all I get to see are press reports. Nothing from the government.

  7. I think the request for access those datas is genuine from an anti-terrorist perspective. But usually not applicable (it is today hard to make usage of PGP or X.509 encryption illicit in most U.N. countries).

    On the other hand, it is possible to put pressions on a private company to put backdoors. It’s just a matter of who owns the power and who can pressure on an entity.

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