SA gov't may demand access to BBM records - TechCentral

SA gov’t may demand access to BBM records

Obed Bapela

Government has mooted a change to legislation to allow the SA Police Service to get access, through the courts, to the records of people using Research in Motion’s popular BlackBerry communications service.

Deputy communications minister Obed Bapela says “a lot of criminality is happening” on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), the instant messaging platform that has caught on like wildfire in SA. Bapela was speaking at Telkom’s annual Satnac conference in East London on Monday.

“We might have to follow Britain and Saudi Arabia to say we need to have [access to]a decryption system if crimes are committed [using the BlackBerry service],” Bapela says.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has criticised social networks, including BBM, threatening to regulate them for allegedly helping fuel recent riots in that country. Cameron has proposed banning troublemakers from social networks.

Bapela says the SA government’s intention is not to spy on people’s communication on social networks.

Rather, government wants to allow the police to access encrypted communications systems when they believe this will help solve criminal cases. “We’ll still go to a magistrate or judge to say we want to investigate [a particular]citizen,” says Bapela.  — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral

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