That Time BlackBerry’s CEO Said Nothing While Criticizing Apple

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BlackBerry CEO John Chen had some sharp vague words on the twin subjects of encryption and privacy, along with a veiled misdirection-swipe at Apple. In an editorial posted to BlackBerry's site titled "The Encryption Debate: a Way Forward," Mr. Chen said...something, I'm sure.

John Chen


John Chen at Techonomy 2010
Source: Wikimedia

You would think with that title Mr. Chen was offering a way forward in the debate over encryption and privacy. Only he doesn't. It's more like he's saying it's important to find a way to move forward without offering any solutions, proposals, or anything else germane to the discussion.

The best summary of the piece would be something like:

1.) Encryption is good.

2.) You can't have backdoors, so stop asking for them.

3.) Apple won't help law enforcement because they love themselves more than you.

4.) BlackBerry is awesome and everyone who is important has one.

5.) Another company (Telegram) did something that has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

6.) We should find a way to move forward.

Go ahead and read it yourself. I pored over it several times looking for something concrete being proposed, but there's just nothing there.

Here's my point by point commentary:

1.) Yep.

2.) Yep.

3.) Uhh...I'm calling you on this one. I'll break that down in detail on page 2.

4.) LOL

5.) What's your point?

6.) No #^%&, Sherlock. How about some ideas?

Most of Mr. Chen's piece doesn't really deserve more commentary aside from emphasizing that he's not really saying anything. Encryption and privacy are important issues, and if a tech CEO—even the CEO of BlackBerry—is going to weigh in on the subject, he should have something real to say.

To give him credit where due, Mr. Chen does state succinctly and clearly that backdoors in encryption systems don't work, and without naming names, he was critical of politicians who don't understand that.

Next: John Chen's Swipe at Apple

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Lee Dronick

Sounds like a good way the good guys who wear black hats to get some street cred, break encryption on iOS 9.

Lee Dronick

Hey speaking of iOS and privacy. A few days ago I noticed a new creepiness from the Facebook app. If I have a URL on the clipboard and open the Facebook app then I am prompted to share the URL. I would think that the contents of our clipboards would be off limits until I paste.


Disingenuous pretty much sums it up.
But frankly, I couldn’t care less what this minor league asshat says.
It’s not like Blackberry is a player any more. I mean, Blackberry phones “powered by Android” is what passes for “innovation” these days?


@Lee Dronick Nope, clipboard is public to the whole system and always has been as far as I know. That’s why 1Password has a setting to clear the clipboard after a minute when you copy a password to the clipboard.

Lee Dronick

Thanks webjprgm. It is still creepy and presumptuous of them.


The comment on that article from Pim Volkers is interesting.  He calls out Mr Chen for not doing what he is suggesting they do.

(He seems to be a real guy - credentials on LinkedIn and other places.)

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