A war of words has emerged between BlackBerry and the manufacturers behind the Blackphone.
In a blog, Joe McGarvey, enterprise mobility strategist at BlackBerry, said he welcomes the attention the Blackphone brings to secure communications and digital privacy, but as a consumer device “the Blackphone appears to be designed to operate outside the realm of IT oversight”.
He said: “It’s currently unclear if the Blackphone will support the logging and archiving of business communications conducted on the smartphone, an unacceptable condition for regulated organisations, such as financial services and healthcare firms.
“Blackphone’s go-it-alone approach to security contrasts dramatically with BlackBerry’s end-to-end enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution.” He went on to say: “For enterprises, security that stops at the device isn’t secure enough. When it comes to enterprise security – in a pre- or post-Snowden environment – the protection offered by BlackBerry’s end-to-end EMM solution makes the most attractive features of the Blackphone superfluous.”
In response, Blackphone CEO Toby Weir-Jones, CEO of Blackphone, a joint venture of Silent Circle and Spanish phone maker Geeksphone, responded by pointing at BlackBerry’s willingness to “compromise its integrity if sufficient pressure was applied by Governments intent on spying on the messages sent via the ubiquitous devices”.
He called the criticisms “short-sighted and misleading” as the interplay between Blackphone’s platform and Silent Circle’s encrypted communications suggests it is striking a chord with the market, and it offers features and extensibility which are not available on Blackberry.
He said that this included encrypted voice communications to Blackphone, Android, iOS, and almost any traditional phone number and the ability to make calls to landlines and mobile numbers for a fixed monthly fee.
“Why is that important? Because it’s strictly a peer-to-peer system, even if a foreign Government demanded we somehow allow them to eavesdrop on our customers, the technical truth is we couldn’t do it,” he said.
“The network doesn’t have a central control point which enterprises, Governments, or individual users must depend upon. This improves security and reduces cost and complexity. You can provision and start using Silent Phone in minutes on any Blackphone, Android, or iOS device, anywhere in the world. BBM Voice only lets you talk to other BBM users after being provisioned by a BES.”
Weir-Jones concluded by saying that the whole point of Blackphone is “privacy, choice, and control” and this puts the ability to make those decisions back into the hands of the device owner. For businesses, they can choose what to permit its employees to do with company-owned equipment.
“We reject outright the argument that an end-to-end approach is the only viable choice, because it’s that same approach which allowed Blackberry to betray its customers and jettison its credibility.”
This is hardly the first effort to criticise the concepts behind the Blackphone and its affiliate Dark Mail Alliance; Certivox CEO Brian Spector told IT Security Guru at the end of last year that the proposed secure email protocol would not be used by big service providers as “it is just not commercially feasible f
or large scale ISPs to do so.”
The collective behind Dark Mail Alliance previously said that its concept is not a “business venture, but a moral and technological journey”.
Constructive criticism is healthy for businesses, but let’s leave that to the analysts to do, not for the businesses to say who is better and who is not. It’s just nice to play in the sand box together.