BlackBerry E-Mail Service to Be Offered in China – Ian Austen

From the New York Times (link)

Research in Motion said on Thursday that after much delay it would introduce its BlackBerry wireless e-mail service in China. But the announcement of its joint venture with China Mobile, which came with few details, quickly prompted questions about how the Canadian company’s product would fit into the Chinese government’s program of communications surveillance and censorship.

When selling the BlackBerry service to government agencies and corporations in North America and Europe, R.I.M. promotes its sophisticated encryption technology that it says makes it impossible even for wireless service providers or the company itself to snoop into the contents of messages as they pass between its devices and e-mail servers. Once they arrive at the server and are decoded, however, they may be vulnerable to Chinese government surveillance efforts.

Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University and a co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, said the centralized nature of BlackBerry service, compared with e-mail between PC’s, could appeal to any government interested in controlling information.

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