Interview: UN telecoms chief urges data sharing

Sep 02, 2010 By RAPHAEL G. SATTER , Associated Press Writer
Hamadoun Toure, chief of the U.N.'s telecommunication agency talks to Associated Press in London, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010. The chief of the U.N.'s telecommunications agency urged the Canadian manufacturer of the BlackBerry to allow law enforcement agencies access to customer data, saying that governments all over the world had legitimate security concerns which should not be ignored. The International Telecommunication Union agency's Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure said that all governments engaged in the fight against terrorism had the right to demand access to users' information from the maker of the BlackBerry Research in Motion Ltd. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

(AP) -- BlackBerry's Canadian manufacturer should give law enforcement agencies around the world access to its customer data, the U.N. technology chief said, adding that governments have legitimate security concerns that should not be ignored.

Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, said officials fighting terrorism had the right to demand access to users' information from the maker of the - Research in Motion Ltd.

"Those are genuine requests," he told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. "There is a need for cooperation between governments and the private sector on security issues."

RIM is embroiled in parallel disputes with at least five countries - India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the - over concerns that the smart phone's powerful encryption technology could be used as a cover for terrorism or criminal activity.

Civil libertarians have argued that the controversy is fueled by authoritarian governments' frustration over their inability to eavesdrop on BlackBerry-using citizens.

Blackberry service is designed from the ground up for . RIM says it complies with all legal requests for data - such as phone logs - even it is unable to provide anyone with the text of e-mails sent by people using its corporate service.

Governments in the U.S. and Europe have largely made their peace with encryption technology, but officials in Asia and the Middle East have demanded that RIM modify its practices to allow them wholesale access to BlackBerry e-mails as they're being transmitted.

On Thursday, Indian officials widened their security crackdown, asking all companies that provide encrypted communications - not just RIM - to install servers in the country to make it easier for the government to obtain users' data. That could potentially draw companies such as Skype and into the flap.

RIM has effectively thrown up its hands, saying the way the Blackberry system is designed prevents anyone except its clients from decrypting communications. The impasse has sent the company's share price plummeting.

A company representative in London did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment on Toure's remarks.

Toure's organization is responsible for coordinating the use of the global radio spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, and establishing standards for the telecommunications industry. The little-known body also serves as a global forum for discussion of cutting-edge communications issues.

The agency has no independent regulatory power, but Toure's comments are a barometer of sentiment among the agency's 192 member states, which are expected to re-elect him to a second term later this year.

Toure was in the British capital to drum up private investment for an effort to spread broadband coverage across the globe. He has argued that hooking developing countries up with high-speed Internet access can have huge additional benefits, boosting education, business, health care and other issues.

Toure has gathered business and political leaders to form a Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a high-profile group devoted to lobbying governments for broadband-friendly regulations. The commission delivers its report to the United Nations later this month.

In the interview, Toure also fielded questions about network neutrality and allegations of Iranian interference with foreign satellite broadcasts.

Toure declined to explicitly say whether he backed network neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers should treat all Internet traffic equally. Some service providers argue that, having invested billions on their networks, they should be allowed to manage Internet traffic as they see fit - for example by giving priority to their own content, preventing applications such as file-sharing from hogging bandwidth, or creating premium services that charge more for faster access.

Toure expressed opposition to attempts to create a two-tier Internet with fast and slow lanes, telling companies they should focus on "ensuring that the best quality signal is offered to anyone, including your competitors."

He also said talks between satellite provider Eutelstat and the Iranian government were ongoing following allegations that Iran had jammed foreign signals following its disputed presidential vote last year.

Western media said Tehran had obstructed their broadcasts to choke off coverage of the unrest that followed President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's re-election to a second term, and the European Union has taken its case to Toure.

Toure said the parties have been in talks at his office in Geneva as recently as Monday, but would not reveal any details.

"We don't see it as a big crisis," he said. "It will be resolved."

Explore further: Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

More information: http://www.itu.int/

4 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

RIM seeks broad industry-gov't talks on encryption

Aug 26, 2010

(AP) -- Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry, said Thursday it is seeking to involve other technology companies in its talks with the Indian government, which wants access to the e-mails of BlackBerry users.

Indonesia joins countries mulling BlackBerry ban

Aug 04, 2010

(AP) -- Indonesia said Wednesday it is considering following the lead of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in banning BlackBerry services, adding to pressure on device maker Research in Motion Ltd. ...

Saudi Arabia orders Blackberry ban starting Friday

Aug 03, 2010

(AP) -- Saudi Arabia is ordering its mobile operators to halt BlackBerry services throughout the kingdom this week, heightening tensions between device maker Research in Motion Ltd. and governments demanding ...

Recommended for you

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

Apr 17, 2014

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

Apr 16, 2014

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

Apr 16, 2014

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

Apr 15, 2014

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Skultch
not rated yet Sep 04, 2010
"The agency has no independent regulatory power"

Thank Jebus!!!!!

Is this an example of deep philosophical differences between the east and west, or is just the fact that the east has more dictatorial regimes?

More news stories

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...