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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Linked by Dan Moren

The Mounties have BlackBerry’s global decryption key

Vice’s Justin Ling and Jordan Pearson report that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has basically been able to decrypt any BlackBerry device since 2010:

According to technical reports by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that were filed in court, law enforcement intercepted and decrypted roughly one million PIN-to-PIN BlackBerry messages in connection with the probe. The report doesn’t disclose exactly where the key — effectively a piece of code that could break the encryption on virtually any BlackBerry message sent from one device to another — came from. But, as one police officer put it, it was a key that could unlock millions of doors.

This is exactly the situation we’re looking at here in the U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have proposed legislation mandating that technology companies essentially provide such a backdoor for law enforcement. But the problem is that there’s no way to ensure that key remains only in the hands of the good guys. They say two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead, but if they’re both giant institutions, well, it gets a lot more complicated.