Over the past few days riots have broken out across London and even spread to other cities throughout the UK following the death of a 29 year old man shot by police last Thursday. What was initially a peaceful protest designed to question the legitimacy of the man’s shooting soon evolved into a violent riot.
As the days have passed, more and more groups of people, which the news have stated are ‘primarily made up of youths’, have congregated across London to riot, committing acts of vandalism, theft and arson in their wake. The contagion, that started out as what appeared to be an isolated incident in Tottenham, spread throughout London and to other UK cities via the use of social media like Facebook and Twitter, but most importantly via the BlackBerry Messenger service, all used as a means to orchestrate these unlawful acts.
BBM in particular has been called out for its use in the London riots due to its enclosed, encrypted and secure nature, allowing rioters to precisely plan their actions and coordinate their attacks with each other on stores and housing throughout the city, without their intentions being discovered by the authorities ahead of time.
RIM announced that they are working with the London Metropolitan Police and other police forces across the UK to assist in any way they can, with a means to catching those responsible for the damage and disruption caused. What this means is that RIM are now supplying the police with selected message content that has passed over their encrypted BBM servers. What would usually be classed as a breach of privacy by RIM, in this case is justified under the The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, giving the police the ability to request this important, usually private information concerning BlackBerry users who may have used BBM in the execution of the riots.
The story does not end there however. As the riots continue to sweep across London, another type of attack took place earlier today and this one was aimed squarely at RIM.
A snapshot of TeaMpOisoN’s hacked post on the BlackBerry Blog
The BlackBerry Blog was hacked and a post published with a message to RIM from a hacker group going by the name of TeaMpOisoN. Although it appears that the post in question has been swiftly removed from the blog, the body of the hacked post addressed a particular statement previously issued from RIM.
RIM’s initial statement read:
“We feel for those impacted by this weekend’s riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can. As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we cooperate with the local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials. Similar to other technology providers in the UK we comply with The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and cooperate fully with the Home Office and UK police forces.”
TeaMpOisoN’s hacked post then responded with:
You Will _NOT_ assist the UK Police because if u 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 at all, the Police are looking to arrest as many people as possible to save themselves from embarrassment…. if you do assist the police by giving them chat logs, gps locations, customer information & access to peoples BlackBerryMessengers 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…. do you really want a bunch of angry youths on your employees doorsteps? Think about it…. and don’t think that the police will protect your employees, the police can’t protect themselves let alone protect others….. if you make the wrong choice your database will be made public, save yourself the embarrassment and make the right choice. don’t be a puppet..
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.
Although TeaMpOisoN’s threats seem somewhat convoluted (when they explain their reasoning in the ‘p.s’ section), the truth of the matter is that this is a direct threat on RIM employees and one not to be taken lightly. It’s a shame that this is effectively another form of intimidation which in fact mirrors the intimidation seen in the rioting itself.
At the time of writing, RIM have continued to help with the police investigation and the riots themselves have resulted in over 500 arrests, 35 injured police members and 1 fatality (not related to the police presence). Last night 6,000 members of the police force were patrolling the streets of London in an attempt to quell the rioters. Tonight 16,000 officers will be out in force, some equipped with full riot gear and armored assistance. We will have to see how RIM handle their situation, especially if it turns out that the threat made by TeaMpOisoN is legitimate, but hopefully, things will calm down sooner rather than later, on all fronts.
Source 1 | Source 2 | Source 3