Blackberry phone maker Research in Motion is cooperating with UK police following the riots in UK, and is facing threats from a hacking group as a result.
The move has seen the Canadian firm’s Inside BlackBerry blog hacked by a group called Team Poison, which claimed responsibility for posting its logo and a statement condemning RIM’s cooperation with police.
Police believe Blackberry Messenger (BBM) was used by the rioters because the messages are private.
RIM released a statement Monday saying: “As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we cooperate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials.”
Blackberry UK realeased a statement on Twitter saying it would work with authorities but did not specify in what way. “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London,” the tweet read. “We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.”
However, BlackBerry’s response has sparked a wide array of criticism on Twitter, as well as a threat from Team Poison. The hackers posted a warning on the company’s blog threatening Research In Motion and Blackberry. The post appeared briefly before it was taken down.
According to the Guardian, the statement reads: “You Will_NOT_assist the UK Police because if you do innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a blackberry will get charged for no reason.
“If you do assist the police by giving them chat logs, gps locations, customer information and access to peoples BlackBerry Messengers you will regret it, we have access to your database which includes your employees information; e.g. – Addresses, Names, Phone Numbers etc. – now if u assist the police, we_WILL_make this information public and pass it onto rioters.”
TeamPoison then went on to state that it didn’t stand behind the riots, except for the parts in which civilians fight with law enforcement: “p.s – we do not condone in innocent people being attacked in these riots nor do we condone in small businesses being looted, but we are all for the rioters that are engaging in attacks on the police and government…. and before anyone says ‘the blackberry employees are innocent’ no they are not! They are the ones that would be assisting the police.”
Team Poison has previously claimed responsibility for defacing Facebook and hacking into another hacking group, LulzSec, best known for hacking into British crime agencies, two Brazilian government-owned websites, and an Arizona law-enforcement website.
RIM’s encrypted message service has been blamed in previous years to aiding militant attacks in India and allowing men and women to communicate in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. BBM has cooperated with local authorities in each of those countries.
“Police have got extensive monitoring of this BlackBerry message model, and actually a lot of people who are seeing these BlackBerry messages are forwarding them to police,” the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan police said Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, a British MP is asking that Blackberry’s instant-messaging service be suspended because of its suspected use by rioters in London and other British cities, following some of the worst riots England has seen in years.
David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, where the riots began on Saturday, has appealed on radio and Twitter for the suspension of Blackberry Messenger (BBM). “This is one of the reasons why unsophisticated criminals are outfoxing an otherwise sophisticated police force,” Lammy tweeted. “BBM is different as it is encrypted and police can’t access it.”