French concerns about the use of BlackBerry devices in government, which erupted this week, are shared in Australia and New Zealand.
Despite being listed by BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) among countries that have certified the BlackBerry, Australia and New Zealand's certification of the devices is not all it seems.
In 2004 the Australian Defence Signals Directorate, the nation's high-tech electronic eavesdropper, issued an interim ruling the popular devices must not be used to transmit confidential or secret information or connect to systems that process it. Agencies may use BlackBerry devices with systems that handle "unclassified, x-in-confidence (excluding cabinet-in-confidence) and restricted information" DSD's guidance said at the time. A check of DSD's current policy on the BlackBerry reveals little has changed. The policy reads: "Agencies may use BlackBerry version 3.6 and later for the transmission of X-in-confidence and restricted information.
"Agencies must not use BlackBerry for the transmission of Cabinet-in-confidence, protected, highly protected, confidential, secret or top secret information."
The routing traffic outside the country through servers based in the US appears to be one issue that disturbs the agency. This again surfaced as an issue in the French case.
Following the French furore, RIM said NATO and the UK government had approved the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution for the wireless transmission of sensitive data under "restricted" classification.
It also said security agencies in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Austria and Canada have accredited the network, with additional certification processes under way in the Netherlands and Germany.