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RIM Co-CEO Cries 'No Fair' On Security Question 329

Posted by timothy
from the you-can't-ask-me-that dept.
bulled writes "When asked about letting governments in Asia and the Middle East into the 'secure' message service used by their BlackBerry devices, Mike Lazaridis, the co-chief executive of RIM, walked out of the interview and said, 'We've dealt with this, the question is no fair.' By 'dealt with,' we can only assume he meant: 'been paid handsomely to let governments read what they wish.'"
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RIM Co-CEO Cries 'No Fair' On Security Question

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:38PM (#35823578)

    It's your right to walk away from an interview at any time. There's not even anything wrong with it unless you've specifically promised to answer all questions.

    However, this was still pretty rude and even silly of him. Some choice information-poor statements would probably have been much more effective than this - now it's been on the Slashdot and more importantly on the BBC News front page. He could just as well have said "we're doing something shady you don't like."

  • IOW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:38PM (#35823586)
    "It is not fair to ask us why we are putting our profits ahead of our customers' security needs."
  • "No fair"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeuralAbyss (12335) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:42PM (#35823618) Homepage

    I think we can safely assume that Blackberry is about as secure as a wet paper bag in countries where the device has become "commercially successful" and the government is less than interested in maintaining privacy.

    Mentioining "national security" at the end of the video is a clear sign that RIM has well and truly given in on their claims of absolute security for the sake of maintaining a moderately-successful business.

    Never trust the security of communications where the keys are being handled by someone outside your organisation.

  • Re:IOW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:46PM (#35823664)

    All these comments about this are little bit childish.. Like "By dealt with, we can only assume he meant 'been paid handsomely to let governments read what they wish.'" what the hell, you probably know fully well what he means.

    Look, there's nothing Blackberry can do about it and it's not their job. It's not like they would be able to fight it if USA was the same. It's the people in general who will need to deal with their governments, not some single random company that is just selling products for the market. Stop being childish and stop these immature comments. If you want, YOU go change those governments minds.

  • whats not fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NynexNinja (379583) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:46PM (#35823666)
    whats not fair is RIM backdooring their product to appease third word oppressive regimes.
  • by Immostlyharmless (1311531) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:46PM (#35823674)
    You can't advertise a service or a device as being secure, and then sell the keys to the locks to the highest bidder. Fuck RIM. I hope they burn. My wife wanted a blackberry on this last go round of upgrades. Nope.
  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:50PM (#35823702)
    Some questions really arent fair. Yes or No questions that imply things, for instance.

    Were you raping that underage transvestite midget crack whore last night?

    So you are saying that it wasnt rape.
  • Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mewsenews (251487) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:53PM (#35823728) Homepage
    Disclaimer: I'm Canadian but I own an iPhone, not a Blackberry. I saw the clip previously and didn't even know what he was talking about, and just thought it was exceptionally bad manners to walk out of a BBC interview. Now that I know that the question was about allowing foreign governments spy on foreign citizens, I find his response even more rude. Answer the damn question, man. If you are ashamed of what your company is doing then maybe you should find another job.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:55PM (#35823744)

    Well, sure. You have the right to walk away anytime. You have the right to walk out of class, out of work; unless you're in prison or the military, you always have the right to walk away.

    But how can he not anticipate this question? Its been the number 1 question of RIM for the last 24 months, and he thinks its *unfair* he was asked about it?

    He's either naive or an idiot. In either case, he was unprepared for an interview if he wasn't ready to talk about RIM's #1 issue.

    If I was a major shareholder, he wouldn't impress me.

  • by cgenman (325138) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:00PM (#35823810) Homepage

    The RIM CEO called an end to an interview when he realized (after a minute and a half) that he was just being ambushed with a combative line of questioning. The interviewer had no interest in him answering the questions, he just wanted to make the CEO look bad in order to get ratings. This is, unfortunately or fortunately, rather common in british television. But in this case, it does seem genuinely unfair.

    The interviewer knows that governments demand access to people's communications. All American telcos give call logs and e-mail histories pretty regularly to the government. Same with British ones. In this case, *we* don't trust the Saudi's with our communications, yet we somehow trust the US government with them.

    Blackberry spent a lot of money building up a successful business in the middle east. Then they had to take their entire business offline while they added these backdoors for the government. When the king holds your entire business for ransom, with the requirement that you do for them what you do for every other government out there, you do it. Whining and complaining about RIM's "security problems" is just childish. And ambushing the CEO on film in an attack segment to make him look bad for something that he, and everyone else was forced to do, is definitely not fair.

  • Re:IOW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MetalFingers (1952272) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:03PM (#35823832)

    Look, there's nothing Blackberry can do about it and it's not their job.

    They are providing a device which boasts security. It is precisely their job. Instead, they've provided the technology for a government to snoop on their citizens communications. Where do i begin with the issues there?

  • Re:IOW (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mweather (1089505) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:03PM (#35823834)
    Why isn't the company that makes the lethal injection drug being sued by it's shareholders for not selling to the US, then?
  • Re:IOW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by funkatron (912521) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:04PM (#35823850)

    Look, there's nothing Blackberry can do about it and it's not their job. It's not like they would be able to fight it if USA was the same. It's the people in general who will need to deal with their governments, not some single random company that is just selling products for the market. Stop being childish and stop these immature comments. If you want, YOU go change those governments minds.

    Correct, it is not RIM's job to oppose shit governments. However, it IS RIM's job to tell you exactly what they are selling to you and this includes security implications. Failing to answer a simple question doesn't bode well on that front.

  • Re:IOW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hes Nikke (237581) <slashdot&gotnate,com> on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:10PM (#35823888) Journal

    It's probably more fair to say, "They were given the choice to provided the technology for a government to snoop on their citizens communications, or suspend business in that governments jurisdiction." Sounds like chasing the dollar at the expense of their core competency to me.

  • Wrong Job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roger W Moore (538166) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:12PM (#35823908) Journal

    It's your right to walk away from an interview at any time.

    True. However if you are the CEO of a major international corporation and you cannot handle a reasonable, politely asked question from a major international media organization you are in the wrong job.

  • Re:IOW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:13PM (#35823916) Journal

    They have not provided the governments with the ability to snoop on their citizens communications.

    Then why were his final words "These are national security issues. Turn that thing off."?

    If you're so sure, Linegod (9952), please tell us how you know.
    Difficulty: No referring to RIM/foreign government press releases &/or articles based on those press releases.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:13PM (#35823918) Homepage Journal

    When the king holds your entire business for ransom, with the requirement that you do for them what you do for every other government out there, you do it. Whining and complaining about RIM's "security problems" is just childish.

    what the fuck does the above even BEGIN to mean ?

    so, if a king holds your business ransom, you can do ANYthing, and its ok, and those who question unethical doings, are 'childish' ?

    'whine' word usage is attention-catching there. so, now when someone complains about unethical dealings of a 'business', it becomes a whine ?

    what kind of fucked up reasoning is that ?

    really. are you a fucking moron, or a troll ?

    no, no, dont excuse the rough language. since you shattered the barrier to ethics on grounds of 'business needs', i had had taken the liberty of shattering the barrier to ethics of civil correspondence, on a random ground of my choosing.

  • Re:So what (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:27PM (#35824004) Journal

    In this case, people aren't angry by the fact that RIM chose (it's a choice; the other option is to cease doing business in the respective countries) to cooperate with authoritarian regimes, but rather by the fact that their CEO does not, apparently, have the balls to admit that they do, and just cries "unfair!" when asked a straightforward question.

  • by zonky (1153039) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:46PM (#35824152)
    No, it's like you sell bananas, but the USA says you can't anymore unless you can tell the government how to remove the skin without the end user knowing. You damage the brand and the business model (security) by caving in.
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:50PM (#35824178)
    Instead of walking out, he could have replied with a "no comment" or "I've addressed that question already" and ask to move on. The Co-CEO got very defensive and ended the interview. If you're the head of a major corporation, you're going to have to field tough questions at times. Some of them might not be fair. But that's why they are supposed to get the big bucks.
  • Re:IOW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:59PM (#35824232)

    Look, there's nothing Blackberry can do about it and it's not their job. It's not like they would be able to fight it if USA was the same. It's the people in general who will need to deal with their governments, not some single random company that is just selling products for the market. Stop being childish and stop these immature comments. If you want, YOU go change those governments minds.

    You are right that in the end, its not their job, but security and privacy has been one of their central claims for years and years. They have in the past made promises they they couldn't keep. These days are quietly backing off of these claims, you no longer see them, and are just like any other smartphone provider.

    Tthey are starting to put the proper perspective on it, buried deep in their FAQ [blackberry.com]:

    Is it necessary to use S/MIME or PGP to make the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution secure?

    All messages sent between BlackBerry smartphones and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server are encrypted. However, once a message goes to the mail server outside the corporate firewall, it’s sent over the Internet. This is exactly what happens when you send an unencrypted message from a desktop or laptop computer.

    The S/MIME and PGP solutions provide sender-to-recipient security from the moment a message leaves a BlackBerry smartphone to the moment it reaches its destination. This ensures the message can’t be read or modified anywhere along the way.

    Note that even the above is not technically true once you leave your campus.

    In the real world, this is the responsibility of the end-user. If Mr. Traveling Businessman doesn't know enough to use a mailer with PGP then he shouldn't be trusted with anything secret.

  • Re:Wrong Job (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:03PM (#35824288)

    Actually CEO's are supposed to run companies - not do interviews.

  • by cgenman (325138) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:13PM (#35824378) Homepage

    I definitely think the British system of asking hard questions is usually superior to the American system of being desperately afraid of offending their guests. But in this case, it was clearly framed in a sensationalist and unfair way.

    Complaints about Western companies enabling repressive governments is completely legitimate. If the interviewer had asked "How do you plan on guaranteeing privacy to your customers in the territories that have demanded universal access?" that might be legitimate. If the interviewer initiated a legitimate discussion about the requirements of balancing customer and government requirements in oppressive regimes, it would have been a great segment.

    That's not what the interviewer asked. The interviewer asked, for a minute and a half, over and over in a hostile cross-examination fashion, if they were going to fix their "security problems." And all of the comments here are along the line of "RIM decided to screw their customers for massive piles of cash!" That's not a discussion, and that's not adding anything to the overall knowledge pool.

  • Re:IOW (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:28PM (#35824462)

    FFS, this keeps happening over and over again. RIM publishes and uses standard encryption between their BES software and the endpoint phones. It is impossible for RIM to give the government access. Just like any other encryption, if the government wants access to that content, they have to go to the BES owner/company to get those keys.

    This is why the US government feels comfortable using Blackberry and BES.

    Secondly, that wasn't the issue in those cases. For IM systems like MSN, Yahoo, AIM etc.. that stuff is already in the clear. Android, IOS, symbian, whatever other phones are out there are not as secure as Blackberry is out of the box with their consumer services. Blackberries have security built into everything except SMS/MMS and phone calls. That makes blackberries MORE secure than anything else on the market. The complaint from these countries was that all the browsing, IM, and everything else regular, non-enterprise customers use the phone for couldn't be monitored - unlike every other phone on the market. And the laws of each country have requirements about access to information in "national security" or whatever cases.

    So for gods sake can we get this stupid idea out of our heads that somehow these countries are beating on RIM and not Android or IOS just because they can? How long do you think these countries got told "tough shit" until they threatened, publicly, to shut down blackberry services for their entire country?

    I promise you, if RIM is evil for complying with local laws, the fact that you're even reading about it says something about them.

  • Re:Wrong Job (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mario_grgic (515333) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:07PM (#35824748)
    That's a rather narrow meaning you have for "run the company". Part of running the company is building and projecting positive image about the company and that means a CEO who is acutely aware of the current hot issues pertaining to the company and who is prepared to diffuse the situation with a well thought out answer. I'm not even implying that he has to come up with the answer himself, that's what his team he has built is all about and that presumably includes lawyers etc, who could spin this issue however you want.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:58PM (#35825008)

    And all of the comments here are along the line of "RIM decided to screw their customers for massive piles of cash!"

    Is that somehow NOT what they did? Now you sound like a hooker who's mad that somebody implied she has sex with people for money. Do you think RIM sells Blackberries because it gives them the warm fuzzies?

  • Re:Wrong Job (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Roger W Moore (538166) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @11:06PM (#35825246) Journal

    In political debates or being invited to the WhiteHouse you will need to have your questions screened before hand. Even the President does it.

    Which is a very good argument to have a prime minister and not a president. As a PM you have to know what is going on and be able to answer questions on your feet - and not just from the media but from MPs in parliament as well. One of the things that really surprised me when I lived in the US was that interviewers never seemed to ask hard questions - or at least push them home if they did ask them. The US may have a free press, but it is a strongly coerced free press.

  • by cgenman (325138) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @11:07PM (#35825262) Homepage

    The RIM CEO killed the interview because he can't assure users in the Middle East and Asia that their blackberry experience is secure.
    The CEO of a multinational corporation ended an interview because he can't assure users of his product's security.
    What discussion is there to be had?

    The RIM CEO killed the interview because he realized that the interviewer had gone hostile, and probably had intended to go hostile the entire time. And when faced with a hostile interviewer, you end the interview. I don't care how good your reasoning is, if it becomes clear that the person who gets to edit the interview has decided to show you in a negative light, nothing you can say will help. You walk away. Interviewing 101.

    In a lot of ways, Blackberry did the responsible thing: they told their customers what was happening. Customers who need security from government snooping can take additional precautions, while the average businessman can continue to use their Blackberries in said countries. As these are by and large blanket government mandates, making a stand of "Let's boycott this horrible regime!" would have just driven their customers to someone else who also has to install government backdoors. Singling out RIM for this is foolish.

    Saying that Blackberry is insecure because of this is disengenious. It could potentially be very secure. It's just the people who it is secure to may not be the people that you want it to be, and they are very upfront about that.

    But more than that, when the interviewer goes hostile, walk away. Having been on both sides of the equation, arguing with the interviewer will never help. The direction of the segment has been decided, and all you're doing is giving the editor fodder. That's just how it goes. Walk away.

  • Re:"No fair"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wrook (134116) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @11:25PM (#35825338) Homepage

    I think we can safely assume that Blackberry is about as secure as a wet paper bag in countries where the device has become "commercially successful" and the government is less than interested in maintaining privacy.

    I originally started to think, why not just say, "The secure channel may not be secure in countries that disallow full security". And then I thought, "Which ones are those"? Because presumably most of the countries that disallow a secure channel also don't want to advertise the fact. They would *like* people to use the "secure" channel so that they have a handy mechanism to track them (as opposed to having those people set up an actually secure channel).

    So, the really interesting question becomes, if they allow country X to snoop on the "secure channel", what about *my* country? How do I know that it isn't compromised?

    So it's not just in countries where the government is less than interested in maintaining privacy. It's useless in *every* country because can't tell which ones have been compromised. I suspect this is the real reason he doesn't want to answer the question. Because the next question would be, "Does the US/UK government have access?" and "How do we know if it does or doesn't"

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday April 15, 2011 @12:31AM (#35825636) Journal

    It doesn't matter whether they had "a deal" or not (even though we've seen no evidence of a deal) because once that camera rolls that's your ass Mr CEO so you had damned well be ready for ANYTHING.

    All he has done is make RIM look like a Mickey Mouse operation with seriously shady dealings going on. Anyone want to bet this will do some damage to the stock price? Walking out of an interview might be fine for Crazy Charlie, but a CEO is supposed to not act like he is four years old. No fair? welcome to life Mr CEO, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

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