In its ongoing battle to convince Apple and Google to stop automatically encrypting user data, the government recently enlisted the help of a former NSA lawyer, who warned this week that such expansive privacy measures could lead the companies into BlackBerry-style bankruptcy.
“BlackBerry pioneered the same business model that Google and Apple are doing now — that has not ended well for BlackBerry,” former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker said earlier this week in The Guardian, before going on to claim the former industry giant is losing business in China and Russia because its smartphones are too difficult to hack.
“They restricted their own ability to sell. We have a tendency to think that once the cyberwar is won in the U.S. that that is the end of it — but that is the easiest war to swim.”
The truth behind the absurd claim is of course the exact opposite — BlackBerry’s storied reputation for user data security is one of the core reasons the smartphone pioneer is still in business at all — especially in the post-Snowden global digital society. The U.S. government itself maintained longstanding service contracts with BlackBerry for years for precisely this reason, especially inside the Department of Defense, with whom Baker was once affiliated.
President Obama is still a featured customer because NSA — Baker’s former employer — won’t let him use anything less secure.
As BGR points out, the reasons for BlackBerry’s downfall in recent years are numerous, and include coming late to the game in fostering a wealth of mobile applications, and losing market share among business contractors as employees increasingly rely on personal devices. Security and encryption are not among those reasons.
Earlier this week, FBI Director James Comey implied Apple and Google could be “acting above the law” by circumventing law enforcement’s access to user data, and the agency has since embarked on a covert campaign in Congress to convince lawmakers to mandate government access to Americans’ encrypted smartphone data. (RELATED: FBI Director: Apple, Google Acting ‘Above The Law’ By Lockings Users’ Phones)