Shame on RIM - Macleans.ca

Shame on RIM

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“What happens to your data when Facebook is sold off in pieces?”

“We’ll see how ‘un-evil’ Google is when they start losing money.”

Such dot com doomsday scenarios are often used to illustrate the folly of trusting private companies with personal information. But we needn’t rely on these hypothetical scenarios anymore. We have RIM.

The troubled Waterloo-based company is pandering to public hysteria, tripping over itself to hand over the private messages and GPS coordinates of anyone the London cops suspect of rioting. Or anyone they say they suspect—what’s the difference, right?

This desperate act will do little to reverse RIMs’s tumbling market share or restore its tarnished brand. It speaks of a cowardly company pathetically trying to spin negative headlines about “Rioting 2.0” into free publicity about their concern for public safety.

Instead, they provide us with a sad, tangible example of why we need to reconsider our arrangements with tech service providers. RIM has the power to completely expose millions of people—expose them to ridicule, to violence, to persecution. They have proven in the past that they will do so whenever it seems to be in their best business interest. Oppressive regimes have made spying and/or censorship the cost of entry, and RIM has fallen into line.

Now they are also selling out their customers in a free, Western society. They have become the target of hackers as a result.

It’s hard to feel sorry for them.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown.