The French newspaper Le Monde has reported that French government officials have been ordered not to use BlackBerry wireless devices due to concerns over spying and espionage. According to the paper, French security service SGDN is concerned because the BlackBerry service transits data using servers based in the United States and the United Kingdom, potentially exposing sensitive government information to foreigners.
Canada’s Research in Motion responded quickly to the allegations, issuing a statement saying that the BlackBerry network was “the most secure wireless data solution available” and noting the system was approved transmitting sensitive information by both the UK government and NATO. The BlackBerry network has also been accredited by the governments of Austria, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, and that even the U.S.’s National Security Agency would not be able to view information transiting BlackBerry servers. (Of course, if the NSA can access those communications, the famously locked-down intelligence agency is not likely to tell anybody.)
RIM’s BlackBerry devices claim more than 7 million users worldwide, including many high-level elected and appointed officials in a variety of governments.
According to Le Monde, the SGDN offered another technology to replace French officials’ BlackBerries, but the system did not work as expected. One cabinet member told the paper that the results was users finding hiding places from which they could surreptitiously continue using their BlackBerries.
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