Earlier this week the deputy minister of communications, Obed Bapela, said that the Department of Communications (DoC) would soon be gazetting a cybercrime policies for public comment which would include the ability to decrypt BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) communications.
Bapela explained that government would require a court order to do so. “We will not be spying on you, please,” Bapela assured the audience.
The South African minister of communications, Radhakrishna “Roy” Padayachie, issued a press statement this morning to clarify their position on the matter.
“Government has no intention to regulate or legislate against Blackberry Encryption messenger services (BBM),” the statement said.
“Government has no intention to intercede or interfere with the privacy of communications between private citizens for lawful purposes,” said Padayachie added.
Padayachie said he welcomed the willingness of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) to work closely with government to “prevent abuse of the encrypted messenger services for unlawful purposes.
The statement is reproduced below:
The Minister of Communications refers to the comments made by the Deputy Minister of Communications Mr Obed Bapela at the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) in East London. The Deputy Minister call for the encryption codes on Blackberry to be made available to Government. This matter was widely reported on in the media. The Minister of Communications wishes to issue the following clarifying statement on this matter.
The Minister of Communications aligns itself with the statement issued by the Minister of Justice Mr Jeff Radebe, the Coordinator of the Justice Cluster in Government that Government has no intention to regulate or legislate against Blackberry Encryption messenger services (BBM). The Government is still working on a policy statement on Cyber matters which policy will review current regulatory and Legislative instruments with respect to cyberspace matters.
The Minister however welcomes the willingness of Research in Motion (RIM) to work closely with Government to prevent the abuse of the encrypted messenger services by criminals for unlawful purposes. Government has no intention to intercede or interfere with the privacy of communications between private citizens for lawful purposes.
Issued by Minister of Communications, Mr.Radhakrishna Roy Padayachie