Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, India and several other countries are planning on banning BlackBerry mobile devices. These countries are demanding that RIM open up its smartphones to more government scrutiny. RIM’s co-CEO has fired off on the issue, saying that a ban on BlackBerrys could be detrimental to international commerce. Former Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton joined Varney & Co. today to weigh in on the issue.
The countries involved in this ban are claiming that this is a law enforcement issue and that they are worried that BlackBerry’s encryption methods may impede their ability to pursue criminals. Bolton thinks this claim is shaky at best. “There are a number of technical ways that the FBI in this country can defeat encryption… not just on BlackBerry but on a range of other telecommunication products,” Bolton explained. “But… the FBI doesn’t get to listen in just because it’s feeling frisky some day; they have to get a court order. In some of these other countries, that’s not the way things work, and that’s why RIM is concerned.”
Bolton thinks that its time American business makes a stand against this kind of interference. “I think that as long as American business… simply accepts what these other governments do without a fight, they’re going to get more and more interference. I think especially on information technology given its obvious and growing importance.”