BlackBerry's Canadian manufacturer should give law enforcement
agencies around the world access to its customer data, the U.N.
technology chief said, adding that governments have legitimate security
concerns that should not be ignored.
secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, said
officials fighting terrorism had the right to demand access to users'
information from the maker of the BlackBerry - Research in Motion Ltd.
are genuine requests,” he told The Associated Press in an interview
Wednesday. “There is a need for co-operation between governments and
the private sector on security issues.”
RIM is embroiled in
parallel disputes with at least five countries - India, Indonesia,
Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates - over concerns
that the smart phone's powerful encryption technology could be used as
a cover for terrorism or criminal activity.
have argued that the controversy is fueled by authoritarian
governments' frustration over their inability to eavesdrop on
Blackberry service is designed from
the ground up for secure communications. RIM says it complies with all
legal requests for data - such as phone logs - even it is unable to
provide anyone with the text of emails sent by people using its
Governments in the U.S. and Europe have
largely made their peace with encryption technology, but officials in
Asia and the Middle East have demanded that RIM modify its practices to
allow them wholesale access to BlackBerry emails as they're being
On Thursday, Indian officials widened their
security crackdown, asking all companies that provide encrypted
communications - not just RIM - to install servers in the country to
make it easier for the government to obtain users' data. That could
potentially draw companies such as Skype and Google into the flap.
has effectively thrown up its hands, saying the way the Blackberry
system is designed prevents anyone except its clients from decrypting
communications. The impasse has sent the company's share price
A company representative in London did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment on Toure's remarks.
organization is responsible for co-ordinating the use of the global
radio spectrum, promoting international co-operation in assigning
satellite orbits, and establishing standards for the telecommunications
industry. The little-known body also serves as a global forum for
discussion of cutting-edge communications issues.
The agency has
no independent regulatory power, but Toure's comments are a barometer
of sentiment among the agency's 192 member states, which are expected
to re-elect him to a second term later this year.
Toure was in
the British capital to drum up private investment for an effort to
spread broadband coverage across the globe. He has argued that hooking
developing countries up with high-speed Internet access can have huge
additional benefits, boosting education, business, health care and
Toure has gathered business and political leaders
to form a Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a high-profile
group devoted to lobbying governments for broadband-friendly
regulations. The commission delivers its report to the United Nations
later this month.
In the interview, Toure also fielded questions
about network neutrality and allegations of Iranian interference with
foreign satellite broadcasts.
Toure declined to explicitly say
whether he backed network neutrality, the principle that Internet
service providers should treat all Internet traffic equally. Some
service providers argue that, having invested billions on their
networks, they should be allowed to manage Internet traffic as they see
fit - for example by giving priority to their own content, preventing
applications such as file-sharing from hogging bandwidth, or creating
premium services that charge more for faster access.
expressed opposition to attempts to create a two-tier Internet with
fast and slow lanes, telling companies they should focus on “ensuring
that the best quality signal is offered to anyone, including your
He also said talks between satellite provider
Eutelstat and the Iranian government were ongoing following allegations
that Iran had jammed foreign signals following its disputed
presidential vote last year.
Western media said Tehran had
obstructed their broadcasts to choke off coverage of the unrest that
followed President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's re-election to a second term,
and the European Union has taken its case to Toure.
Toure said the parties have been in talks at his office in Geneva as recently as Monday, but would not reveal any details.
“We don't see it as a big crisis,” he said. “It will be resolved.”