BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) was used to organise this weekend’s disturbances*
London riots: BlackBerry manufacturer offers to help police 'in any way we can'
The manufacturer of BlackBerry smartphones has offered to help police investigate disturbances in London after it became clear some of the violence was being coordinated via its instant messenger services.
By Christopher Williams,
08 Aug 2011
In a message posted on its official Twitter account for the UK, Research In Motion (RIM) expressed sympathy over the two nights of looting and rioting that have hit parts of north and south London including Tottenham, Enfield and Brixton.
“We feel for those impacted by the riots in London,” it said.
“We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.”
Attention has focused on the firm because of the popularity of the BlackBerry Messenger application among some inner city youths. It functions as a mixture of social network and free text messaging service, allowing information to spread quickly but in relative security.
BBM messages are encrypted so that they are unintelligible to anyone except the intended recipient, but RIM has access to the master key and can be compelled to hand it to authorities under part three of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
Patrick Spence, RIM’s managing director of global sales, indicated the firm would comply with any such request.
“As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we co-operate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials,” he said.
“Similar to other technology providers in the UK we comply with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and co-operate fully with the Home Office and UK police forces.”
According to recent research by Ofcom, BlackBerry is the most popular smartphone brand among teenagers with a 37 per cent market share, compared to 17 per cent for its nearest rival, Apple’s iPhone.