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Blame Canada

CNet strikes again. These guys are awful, although in the interest of accuracy, they're only rehashing a story from the Wall Street Journal, which is itself a few days late in reporting Microsoft's advice to Obama, which was to ditch the BlackBerry and go with an NSA-approved Windows Mobile device. The reason? BlackBerry data passes through RIM's NOC in Canada.

First of all, OLD. Obama is using the BlackBerry for personal use and an NSA-approved Sectera Edge-- an overpriced Treo 750 running Windows Mobile-- for official use.

Secondly, I'm pretty sure that this thing about the Canadian NOC is wrong-- or, at least, not entirely correct. BlackBerries run in two modes, usually referred to as BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) and BIS (BlackBerry Internet Server).

If you're using BIS-- you're a physical person getting BlackBerry service from a mobile operator, then the emails forwarded to your handset do indeed all come through RIM's network operations center, because that's where the BIS is.

If you're using BES-- you're a corporate customer with your own BlackBerry server, then emails between your BlackBerry and other BlackBerries on the same system don't go through Canada; only messages from outside the system do, mails that originate from elsewhere.

Let's not forget, first of all, that we are talking about EMAIL. Email that is likely unencrypted and unprotected. Why is it suddenly less secure when it crosses the border into Canada and then heads to the NOC of your mobile operator before finally landing on your handset?

Yes, text messages and emails are insecure. They are not appropriate for official use by the President of the United States in situations where security is required. That's not the issue, since email in general and a BlackBerry in specific are not appropriate for those uses in any case; who or where RIM is from and where they operate is immaterial, as there's no reason to believe their administrators are any less (or indeed any more) unscrupulous than any of the administrators of any of the other mail servers and gateway that sit between the White House and anyone else they might send email to or receive email from.