The revelation comes via court documents that were made public after members of a Montreal crime syndicate pleaded guilty to a 2011 murder. Government lawyers spent nearly two years fighting in a courtroom to keep this out of the public record. It appears that they've had the decryption key since 2010.
In a technical report filed with the Superior Court of Quebec, the RCMP says it obtained "the key that would unlock the doors of all the houses of the people who use the provider's services, and that, without their knowledge."
In just this case, the RCMP intercepted and decrypted roughly one million PIN-to-PIN BlackBerry messages. Crown attorney Robert Rouleau even admitted to the judge that his own phone would be vulnerable to the intrusion used by the RCMP.
"I'm a dead chicken. That's the reality of it, that's what we don't want the general public to know," Rouleau said.
The RCMP refused to reveal how they obtained the key but its authenticity was validated. "It is agreed by all parties that the RCMP would have had the correct global key when it decrypted messages during its investigation," reads a decision from Judge Stober.
The revelation will likely come as a blow to BlackBerry who touts it's security in comparison to rival smartphones. Corporations and governments have the ability to use BlackBerry Messenger with their own decryption keys via BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES); however, that isn't something the average person would be using.
Presumably, the RCMP would be able to use the global decryption key to read almost any BBM including those sent by Americans. It will be interesting to see how this news affects Apple's battle with the FBI over the importance of encryption on its devices.
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