BlackBerry Messenger might backfire on UK rioters

An image taken from a CCTV camera released by the Metropolitan police on August 9, 2011 shows masked rioters standing by a smashed shop in West Northwood in London during rioting late last night (AFP Photo / Metropolitan Police)
Rioters’ trust in BlackBerry’s encrypted messaging system in organizing violent disorder across the UK could turn against them, as Research in Motion said it would aid London police in their investigation.

­After Scotland Yard claimed that BlackBerry Messenger played a key role in helping to organize the violence, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion said on Tuesday afternoon that it will help the police with their investigations.

“We feel for those impacted by the riots in London,” said a message on RIM’s official Twitter account for the UK. “We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.”

According to the UK Data Protection Act, RIM could provide information about rioters, including their names and the names of people they sent messages to, as well as the time and the location they were sent from.

But in order to access the actual text of the message, police would have to issue a warrant, so that RIM could legally use its master key to decrypt personal messages.

Research in Motion as yet has declined to comment whether it is going to disclose its clients’ personal information.

But soon after RIM indicated their willingness to help with the investigation, a group of hackers calling themselves TeamPoison defaced RIM’s website.

"You Will _NOT_ assist the UK Police because if u do innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a blackberry will get charged for no reason at all, the Police are looking to arrest as many people as possible to save themselves from embarrassment," read a message posted on the RIM’s site by hackers.