When it comes to supporting the South African government’s access regulations in RICA, BBM already complies with the law.
This is according to Matthew Talbot, the CEO of Creative MediaWorks, which owns the licence to operate BBM on non-BlackBerry devices.
In 2016, a media storm erupted when Mteto Nyati, CEO of MTN SA at the time, said WhatsApp should be regulated in South Africa.
“You have these players which are getting huge benefit out of an industry without making any investment. How do we level the playing fields?” said Nyati.
His comments put a spotlight on the conflict between network operators and over-the-top services like WhatsApp and Skype, and resulted in a showdown before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee.
While mobile networks enjoy increased data usage by users thanks to platforms like WhatsApp, the service competes directly against a network’s voice calling and SMS services – big revenue streams.
Vodacom and MTN said it was unfair services like WhatsApp don’t face the same regulatory burdens they do, such as RICA, the CPA, POPI, interconnection, security, and local taxation. In the end, nothing has come of the discussions.
Regardless of whether regulatory compliance is forced on international services in South Africa, Talbot said they already work with governments around the world.
He said BBM is known for its prioritisation of privacy and security, and that nothing has changed in this regard. BBM remains encrypted, and the privacy and security of its users is a primary concern.
Where governments and law enforcement have requests regarding specific cases, though, BBM will assist where it is reasonable to do so.