Why the NSA Doesn’t Want You to Have a BlackBerry

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In a world where every detail of your life is scooped up and sliced and diced until each one of us is living our own little Truman Show, privacy is the enemy. Apple and Google harvest your data and share it with the BlackBerry not only doesn't harvest your data, it can't. The technology prohibits it.

In a world where every detail of your life is scooped up and sliced and diced until each one of us is living our own little Truman Show, privacy is the enemy. Apple and Google harvest your data and share it with the BlackBerry not only doesn’t harvest your data, it can’t. The technology prohibits it.

It’s fluid. It’s fast. It’s fun. It’s sexy as hell. It has hella kick-ass apps. It blows your piece of crap dumbphone out of the water, and if you don’t believe me, let’s do a little side-by-side comparison sometime, and you’ll either shut up or buy one.

So I’m like, “Why has this amazing device, so fluid and fun and efficient, languished?” The sheer hatred I see for the BlackBerry brand confounds me at times; it seems pathological, almost, like some evil mind-control ray has been beamed on the American populace to make them hate something they’ve never tried with a 1984-like Two Minute Hate-type of hate. It’s just weird to me because I freakin’ love this device, and I am surrounded by the competition every day. Those phones are douchebag phones compared to my Z. Seriously, they don’t look smart to me. They look retarded.

So I was like, “What gives?”

Granted, BlackBerry has done an awful job of marketing these things. What few ads there have been have been weak. They should have licensed the song “Back in Black” and done a bad-ass, kick-ass, in-your-face campaign showing off their new badass line. Oh well. That’s what happens when you let technologists run a company — they create amazing technology but don’t know jack about selling it.


In a world where every detail of your life is scooped up and sliced and diced until each one of us is living our own little Truman Show, privacy is the enemy. Apple and Google harvest your data and share it with the NSA. BlackBerry not only doesn’t harvest your data, it can’t. The technology prohibits it.

That still doesn’t explain the raw hatred for the brand. From whence did this come? Then it dawned on me: Of all the incredible features on this thing, privacy is the one that certain powerful people probably wouldn’t like.

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In a world where every detail of your life is scooped up and sliced and diced until each one of us is living our own little Truman Show, privacy is the enemy. Apple and Google harvest your data and share it with the NSA. BlackBerry not only doesn’t harvest your data, it can’t. The technology prohibits it.

Your Apple or Android phone “phone home” to Apple or Google periodically. Apple or Google can reach into your device at any time and, for instance, delete an app. BlackBerry can’t do that. Someone would have to have physical access to my device to read my BBMs. It’s PIN to PIN and strongly encrypted, and it can only be decrypted on my device, not on the web, not on another BlackBerry.

With BB10, I can sync my contacts, calendar and files to my own home computer. I don't need a cloud service. So if I don't sync them to Google Calendar, the NSA has a tough row to hoe there.

With BB10, I can sync my contacts, calendar and files to my own home computer. I don’t need a cloud service. So if I don’t sync them to Google Calendar, the NSA has a tough row to hoe there.

Of course I harbor no delusions about the capabilities of the NSA. If they want my BBM messages, I’m sure they have the resources to intercept and decrypt them. Decryption is expensive, though. They definitely can’t decrypt all of the 100 million messages a day BBM sends. They would have to really want to read them to read them. Apple, on the other hand, hands over iMessage and all other data fairly regularly, it seems.

If they want my call history, they’ll get it from AT&T. If they want my contacts, they’ll find out where I sync them, and raid them there. Likewise the calendar.

But with BB10, I can sync my contacts, calendar and files to my own home computer. I don’t need a cloud service. So if I don’t sync them to Google Calendar, the NSA has a tough row to hoe there.

Maybe this has to do with the fact that Apple and Google are American companies. Maybe BlackBerry just isn’t as subject to the sort of “deal you can’t resist” persuasion the NSA can exert on those firms. Or maybe BlackBerry has decided that a key part of its business model is to provide truly secure communications. Maybe that’s why you still see a lot of BlackBerrys in places like New York, Chicago, Washington D.C, the City in London and anywhere big money changes hands. I really don’t know.

What I do know is that rocking a BlackBerry makes them work a bit harder at turning my life into the Truman Show. If I were a business, I would certainly be using BlackBerry, even if the NSA weren’t in the picture. You’d have to be insane to expose your business data — wholesale — to Google and Apple just because those brands are cool and your dumbass employees want them.

What else makes a BlackBerry more secure, beyond the fact that it doesn’t send all your data — all your pictures, access to your camera and microphone, etc. — to some Silicon Valley juggernaut? Three things:

-You have granular control over what permissions applications are given. If an app wants access to my location and I don’t think it needs it, I can tell it to screw off.

-You can turn off GPS and even carrier connectivity. BlackBerry Jane can stroll into her local coffee shop, connect to wifi, log into a throwaway gmail account and send cryptic messages about cute puppies to her buddy in Tel Aviv. The NSA will go nuts because all they will know is that somebody with a BlackBerry said, “My new Golden is SOOOO cute!”

-BBM is PIN-to-PIN and strongly encrypted. Sure, the NSA can intercept and decrypt it (I think) but they’d have to think you were a terrorist to go to the trouble, and that’s fine with me. It’s their job to catch terrorists, not to turn everybody’s life into the Truman Show.

All this negative bullshit about this absolutely amazing piece of technology (and if you haven’t used it, just STFU because you don’t know what you’re talking about) has baffled me until now. Now I’m filing it under “Things that make you go ‘hmmmm.'”

Whatever happens with BlackBerry the company, I am sure happy with my Z, and I’m proud to own the finest piece of mobile technology to date, despite what the lemmings think as they march ignorantly into the Fourth Amendment shredder.

Check out more from CharlieHipHop at his blog here.

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  • Tod Ingram

    This article is absolutely “spot on”. Not only a great read, but true. Thank you for putting into words the precise way I feel everyday as I proudly use my Z10. I have literally had a girl say that’s a great phone. However, when I explained it was a Blackberry she tossed it on the sales counter. Thank you Otter box! Otherwise it would be broken. Again thank you for the article please when you write again send me a copy @ tingram@erginvestmentsgroup.com.

  • Kurt Windibank

    Amen brother!! Blackberry, BB10 OS is the best there is. I think they need to take the hardware specs up a notch to get the naysayers to STFU. Bring a Quad Core, 1080P 5 inch smackphone to the market and the American sheep will come.

  • Peter

    Incredible article – what I like best is the emotion. In addition, there is also a sort of iPhone tribalism that is trying to wipe this brand out. @Kurt Windibank – there will always be naysayers, even if the BB makes your coffee and drives you to work in the morning!

  • Wojciech Podsadowski

    Thank you!
    Finally a true representation of BlackBerry’s BB10 platform. I have been using my Z10 for over three months now and I can’t separate myself from it – it’s that good and intuitive. I don’t understand the hate towards the company either. I wish people just looked at this product objectively and gave it a real try…. you won’t be sorry you did. Don’t just trust me, trust all the people that have switched and can’t live with out it.

  • James Hathaway

    DOA

  • Wojciech Podsadowski

    Excellent comment @JH. Very original. You have been trolling on every site that mentions word BlackBerry.

  • terry yauk

    small article for a small clan of cave dwellers – if BB10 had a decent map app you maybe able to get walking instructions to the year 2013 but it doesnt, maybe when you can port ICS apps in the fall then again they will still be 12 month old android apps that you rely on as no one makes a go to app for the BB10, is there even a real twitter app yet?

  • John BBRY Backword

    Another person on the Internet who thinks they know it all. Put up or shut up

  • John BBRY Backword

    Thanks for the great read. I believe this is true.

  • Terry Yauk

    it never will be able to make you coffee or drive you to work in the morning let alone sync with any automakers on-board media centre. It is a device for a small clan of technophobes literally grasping at virtual straws trying to justify their nationalistic tendencies, if you are worried about security get silentcircle oh yeah they dont offer it for the BB

  • Peter

    If you call 70 million people a ‘small clan of techophiles’. Obviously you are not worth listening to because you know nothing about the phone. For Blackberry, security is baked in at the kernal level, no app on Android or iPhone can match that.

  • Peter

    The map app on Blackberry 10 is excellent. Gets the job done for me as well as Google maps. I have used it many times.

  • Peter

    I saw a post of your on a previous article that said BB 10 had no gmail!!! Really!! Wow you know your stuff man. Gmail has been integrated into the BB10 hub from day one. You know zero, go away.

  • terry yauk

    70 million ( was 80 million 2 months ago) and falling. Andorid activates close to 1.5 million a day so that 70 million number is less than 1Q of users.

    BB10 security has been proven to be cracked easily http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/top-business-stories/british-spies-penetrated-blackberry-security-to-snoop-at-g20-report/article12596145/

    give in already and admit your praise is like trying sweeping water from a flooding mississippi and evangeline cant swim home

  • Mimmo

    The. Problem is that this article like the phone will be swept under the rug. BlackBerry needs to get this info out there for all to see.

  • Peter

    Go for it Terry Yak.Sorry, Terry Yuk. LOL

  • mrdentus

    Those activations does NOT mean new users, it only means devices, which people throw away and get new one all the time, and some have more than one. It also include replacement devices for those who have damaged etc… yes they are big in numbers, but 1.5 million pr day is NOT the number of new users.

    The 70 million BlackBerry users, is BIS activated – active users. BB10 not included.

  • Kurt Windibank

    terry….BB10 is built on QNX….QNX is in MILLIONS of cars now.
    Maybe have a look at the CAR2 Bentley showcased this year powered by QNX and synched with a Z10…performing the FIRST EVER video call from Car to a phone.
    Wake up man….

  • Kurt Windibank

    @a24d0ca687129816e587ec16a73659f4:disqus
    I take a wild guess and say you are American:
    1. Lack of understanding about Mobile security.
    2. Unbelievable lack of knowledge about QNX ( commenting that it will never be able to sync with an on board media center….when BB’s QNX is the LEADING supplier of onboard media OS) Just do a simple Google search (assuming you know what Google is).
    Your comments just underscore EXACTLY what this article is about….American lack of knowledge.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02jPkg5AhEc Eduardo Especial

    Nobody would care. This is nothing more than semi-coherent, fan site drivel.

  • FS

    BlackBerry forever! BlackBerry 10 is great! I have a Z10 from the beginning and the handling is awesome! :-)

  • FS

    Yes, there is a twitter app for BlackBerry 10 :-) Only for information! :-)

  • Rick

    It’s baffling how biased this article is, especially after mentioning the claim of “1984-like Two Minute Hate-type of hate” from users of other devices. I’ve used a Z10 and several android devices (like the HTC One) and even an iPhone 5… I can tell you that blackberry has created an unattractive ecosystem that incorporates copious and unnecessary security elements that drastically hinder the potential of BB devices. The device is smooth enough but who cares when app support is a second though, and functionality is limited across the board… even account management is limited, tedious, and ineffective. Blackberry is a world of limits, EVEN MORESO than Apple… Who cares if Google sees ALL my texts… Hell I could probably beg them to read through my stuff and they wouldn’t… Do you know how hard it is to go through AND READ 5-10,000 texts a month? Nobody is going through your personal information. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Unless you’re really causing problems then someone will get involved… and even then don’t think your measly blackberry is going to save your drug dealing empire… That’s a scare tactic. So basically if you want to be a drug dealer, or a terrorist, you should get a blackberry for that 1% extra chance of not getting screwed… at the cost of living in the dark world of regression and pitifully slow, uninspired development.

    Get a rooted android and live on the cutting edge of development.. Or even an iPhone 5 if you’re not that tech savvy, at least it has some goodies. Blackberry offers nothing, and it is constantly at the rear end of productivity. I want a device that I can control, not a device that controls or limits my ambitions.

  • westex

    Sure, BlckBerry encryption is strong. Unless BlackBerry gives the encryption keys to the NSA like they did the Government of India, Pakistan and virtually the entire Arab world,

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02jPkg5AhEc Eduardo Especial

    There’s no hate. Just apathy. The specs are middling, the OS is actually unintuitive, and above all, the platform has very little developer support. Glad you like it, though. Few others care for it or about it.

  • Peter

    “Nobody is going through your personal information” – and you are sure about this?

    “I can tell you that blackberry has created an unattractive ecosystem that incorporates copious and unnecessary security elements that drastically hinder the potential of BB devices.” – wrong. I have found every app that I need in Blackberry World and have never been hindered by security.

    It’s funny how you put Blackberry down, but provide no meaningful reason why we should all leave our Blackberry devices and get an iPhone?? Oh right, it is so we have access to the wonderful catalog of 800,000 fart apps and malware, now I get it.

    The Blackberry user experience is way better than iPhone and Android. Nothing else need be said. I actually own an iPhone, my girlfriend has the Z10, and there is simply no comparison, the Z10 is better in every way.

  • Heedrix

    Used to work for BlackBerry, was let go when the market crashed. Still have a BB device though. The one thing that gets me is BlackBerry’s market share of the US is like 1%. But the rest of the globe?? It’s huge. And no, I don’t know the numbers. Just find it amusing that the small US market and voices can affect the share prices of the company so drastically. Just from their negative impressions of the company. Too much weight is give to their opinions. It’s too bad the world only listens to what the US has to say. And yes, I’m sure there are a lot of valid opinions out there.

  • terry yauk

    how many Bentley’s are made…. Really name a major car maker that has included interactive control of media with BlackBerry, other than bluetooth integration.
    there isn’t one and never will be.

  • Kurt Windibank

    What part of QNX is in over 30 million cars and BlackBerry owns QNX don’t you understand? It is the OS that runs On star for his sake.

    Do some research before running your yapper.

  • Kurt Windibank

    Also..have a look at the Jeep Wrangler (nice redneck one for ya) powered by QNX. CAR2 platform.

    QNX is a cross platform OS….

  • terry yauk

    there is no interactive media control between BB10 and the jeep wrangler or any car with OnStar – BB cant even get that QNX and BB10 connected!!!!!!!!

    as bb owners you obviously have no idea what it means to have voice command for music access files or directions onboard a automobile (bentley aside)

  • Kurt Windibank

    You truly are one stupid mofo…..

  • Kurt Windibank

    Hey Terri…
    The old method of counting “subs” has been displaced by a new model. Nobody else reports “subs” because subs were unique to BlackBerry…paid subscribers to BES/BIS.
    The new BES 10 Secure Works manages iOS and Android…effectively making those devices “blackberry subs” as well…making 99 dollars per device annually means that BB makes almost as much margin as the hardware maker themselves do on each device.
    As for BlackBerry security….you are a complete moron if you think BlackBerry is not the leader…by a long shot…in terms of offering a secure, malware free platform.
    We get it…you hate Blackberry.

  • TheAngryEdmontonian

    Terry, please stop. you haven’t a clue.

  • Elky Monroe

    Folks, it’s not a world of mutual exclusivity – you can enjoy more than one mobile phone. I have the new Q10 and love it, after having BBs from 2004-2010. I also like my iPhone – and enjoy all the neat things I can do with it. But people swear I’m on a landline when calling from my Q10. Email abilities are superior. iPhone is a fun pocket computer. The Q10 excels at what a mobile phone is supposed to do – mobile communications excellence.

  • John Newcomb

    BlackBerry maker Research in Motion agrees to hand over its encryption keys to India:
    http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-08-02/news/33001399_1_blackberry-enterprise-encryption-keys-corporate-emails

  • pulkit

    Bro came here to tell you you are an asset for BlackBerry, you should be on CrackBerry. I shit and f android won’t understand what does security means. Lol

  • Frank

    It’s true that some government forced BB to give them access to the secure network for their country, And that those same government don’t have to do the same with IOS and Androids, because they are easy to access. I by far prefer a system that requires a government to request access , than a system with no protection that hackers can access easy, And steal my information. In today’s world we do much more on our phone, bank transaction trading transaction,Business negotiation/ transaction. And in starting in many countries right now BBM money transfer.Where one can transfer securely money from is phone to an other phone. For this you need security, Not 800000 farts and flashlight apps, Note that in resent study of Apple app store as much as 90% or the apps are zombie , or not downloaded enough to be maintain by their developer.
    I believe many company and industry are afraid of what Blackberry was able to accomplish in the last 2 years , and are doing everything they can to slow it down.
    Mobile computing will affect : Tablet laptop/desktop maker. and even chip maker as less cpu chip are require. 1 cpu runs multiple peripherals ex: tablet like dummy screen. Screen with wireless keyboard and mouse etc
    other manufacturer that can’t compete in Mobile computing
    BBM money : credit card company
    Company that sells you information, for ads revenue
    What was missing in Blackberry of past , consumer experience web browser etc Now Blackberry is now leading, More and more apps are build on HTML5 because the become multi platform instantly , Currently Blackberry as the best HTML5 browser look it up .

  • Mike

    Nice article. I’ve noticed the Apple tribalism you refer to — never thought to call it that, though. For that reason, despite owning an outmoded Samsung with Android OS, I am heavily invested (12% of portfolio) in AAPL 415 Jan 15 calls. Too bad BB can’t get their operations and marketing shit together.

    I’ll be in the market for a new phone soon. Previously I wouldn’t have given BB a glance, but now I’ll give it serious consideration.

  • Jorge Starr

    all good stuff – seems to be a whole lot of BB10 experts here – i have a question – is there any way to stream from my Z10 to a media player on my Tv? I want to stream my videos and pics to my media centre,

  • udyy
  • jorge Starr

    are there really 800,000 fart apps, whoa how many do people need?

    I havent found one yet on my BB10 device, but then I really dont need it, I would really love for them to make some of the apps like apple has for design and color or a level

  • peter in peterborough

    they make a hdmi cable connection for this purpose, IMO far superior to streaming wirelessly. BB10 is about the complete experience not flashy “Streaming” to a media player

  • Sheldon Anidatae

    Just so you know that video in the CrackBerry article was sarcastic. That dude loves the Z10…almost too much ;D

  • boss604

    Yes you can stream. It supports DLNA, I use it all the time and works great.

  • guest

    you are the biggest moron, i have ever heard. your flimsy pr for other companies is a joke waiting to happen and i guess you were shorting bb because your brain suffers. drainiac. go run like a lemming to your nsa sponsored apple phone.

  • gt

    wow. how much are google and apple paying you for this disinformation posing as very thinly veiled PR?

  • The iPhone is better at farts

    ah, the iSheep. See how they run! My iPhone sits in its drawer gathering dust while I do real work on my BB. Of course, the illiterate love the iPhone because it helps them write like the activity going off in their brains. Slowly. I’d think most people on here defending iPhones work for a company developing apps for iPhones, do PR for Apple or are about 10 (note the irony …). Anyone who actually does work and gives up their BB for the useless keyboards available from competitors is the same kind of person who bought the crap about Apple fighting big brother when in the end Jobs killed himself trying to create the biggest company in the world. Nice work. It lasted about six months. Meanwhile, Apple investors at the peak were fed a bunch of bull, knew almost nothing about the company, and lost a bundle. I got out of BB very close to the peak. I know almost no one invested in Apple who sold near 700. They were too busy playing with their fart apps! And genuflecting to the new Scientology.

  • Joe Schmo

    FTFA:
    -You have granular control over what permissions applications are given. If an app wants access to my location and I don’t think it needs it, I can tell it to screw off.
    -You can turn off GPS and even carrier connectivity. BlackBerry Jane can stroll into her local coffee shop, connect to wifi, log into a throwaway gmail account and send cryptic messages about cute puppies to her buddy in Tel Aviv. The NSA will go nuts because all they will know is that somebody with a BlackBerry said, “My new Golden is SOOOO cute!”
    -BBM is PIN-to-PIN and strongly encrypted. Sure, the NSA can intercept and decrypt it (I think) but they’d have to think you were a terrorist to go to the trouble, and that’s fine with me. It’s their job to catch terrorists, not to turn everybody’s life into the Truman Show.

    The app-based location control was directly copied from the iPhone. The other features are also available on iPhone. This article is written by a fanboy, not a journalist. I’ve used (and developed for) all the major platforms and this entire article has little basis in reality.

  • Mark

    It’s really not hard to understand why Americans hate Blackberry. Its all because they don’t own the technology.
    Since the last American made Recession of 2008, they went on a Buy American so what happens they start bashing everything none American just to help them out of another hole they dug for themselves.

    Americans don’t like it when they don’t own the Best Technology out there and that’s when they start bashing the shit out of anything none American.

    Don’t have to go far to see how many other companies they have done it too.

    Back when the Internet bubble busted, who got bashed the most Nortel, why because at the time they were the BEST in class in all products that they created, from DMS to Meridian PBX (which at the time was the Number 1 PBX in the world). They had the customer bass to make it through all the issues they had but Americans started Bashing Nortel to the point where no one would buy their products anymore and hence they went under. Now ask yourself who now owns the majority of the patents? I believe its American Companies. Need I say more?

    Americans would rather support 3rd world countries instead of supporting their neighbors to the North. They have been taking advantage of Canada for years and yes our Government Bends over and give them whatever they want from our resources to our Technologies.

  •  07thking

    Seems like the author made some valid points. Bashers here clearly haven’t used BB10 to the extent that some of us have. I use other platforms as well as a Q10 and simply put BB10 holds its own. I’m not going to fight anyone here, all I can say is when people ask me about my new BlackBerry (many have) I show them how I used it and they are always impressed.

  • Carsten Hatorp

    Great read, love my Z30!!

  •  07thking

    Also, if no-one is hating on BlackBerry why are some websites deliberately blocking BlackBerry’s browser from accessing content? What’s the deal? See we don’t need apps for some things, and which other platform out there will allow you to run apps from other platforms?

  • Lost at Sea

    Its interesting that the US Government, the US Military and most US Police use the BlackBerry but the big US phone companies do not put in much effort to sell these devices to the public. Really interesting. Snowden has even stated that Apple handed over access to NSA without a fight quite a few years ago.

  • kyle rusk

    Lemmings walking into a fourth amendment paper shredder!! HAHA!!

  • guest

    QNX in in new VWs.
    Get informed!