The Evolution of Wiretapping

Engage Volume 12, Issue 2, September 2011
By Paul Rosenzweig
September 12, 2011

In 2010, the government of India approached Research In Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of Blackberry devices, with a demand. India wanted to monitor the encrypted e-mails and Blackberry Messages (a form of internet chat) that passed across RIM’s servers between corporate clients. And it wanted help in decrypting the encrypted messages. This was, the Indian government argued, essential to allow it to combat terrorism. And, they added, if you don’t give us this access, then we’ll pull your wireless license and close down Blackberry in India. Faced with the loss of more than one million Indian corporate customers, RIM compromised—it found a way to share with the Indian government where to find the encrypted messages the government wanted—in effect identifying the servers where the information originated—without actually decrypting the messages itself...