Canadian police have had access to BlackBerry’s global encryption key capable of decrypting nearly any message sent on its platform, according to a report from Vice.
The Canadian firm — famed for its security but now facing serious difficulties and vanishing marketshare — apparently has a global decryption key that can be used to intercept messages sent on its consumer-level devices, and the Canadian police have been used it since 2010.
It’s not clear how Canadian police got access to the encryption key. BlackBerry did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. The company also declined to comment to Vice about its report.
The key is detailed in court documents seen by Vice relating to case against a Montreal crime syndicate. Canadian police reportedly decrypted around 1 million messages as part of the investigation.
The revelations also raise questions as to whether law enforcement agencies in other countries had access to BlackBerry’s global master key.
BlackBerry’s enterprise customers who used BlackBerry Enterprise Server are apparently not compromised by the existence of the global key: They use separate encryption keys that the company does not have any access to.
The tech industry’s pro-encryption, anti-surveillance stance has strengthened in recent years with more and more consumer products, from the iPhone to WhatsApp, introducing encryption that cannot be decrypted by anyone but the user.
In contrast, BlackBerry CEO John Chen has been relatively conciliatory to law enforcement, writing in December 2015 that the company’s “privacy commitment does not extend to criminals.”
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