/ 5 September 2011

Calls for BBM decryption not for spy purposes

Deputy Communications Minister Kopeng Obed Bapela on Monday called for the decryption of BlackBerry Messenger-type services amid an increase in cybercrime in the space.

Speaking at the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference in East London, Eastern Cape, the deputy minister said that South Africa might have to follow Britain and Saudi Arabia with a decryption system if crimes were committed using social messenger services.

It follows recent calls by MPs in the United Kingdom for a BlackBerry Messenger block following the London riots, which then spread to other cities. The police accessed BlackBerry messages to thwart planned riots.

Bapela quickly assured the audience that government’s intention would not be to spy on local citizens. He said that government would aim to tap into this prevention policy once a crime was committed, or potential threats came about.

The deputy minister also highlighted a need for a minimum of 5Mbps for broadband speed, “to move the country forward”. He said that 250Kbps was no longer good enough. The DoC has pledged broadband access for all by 2020.

He said that government would aim to gazette this encryption process. — I-Net Bridge