Blackberry CEO John Chen, announced on Monday that, "when it comes to doing the right thing in difficult situations, BlackBerry’s guiding principle has been to do what is right for the citizenry, within legal and ethical boundaries."
The comments are the latest in a wider public discussion on how much access law enforcement officials should have to encrypted devices and how to balance security issues with user privacy rights. It was triggered when Apple recently refused an FBI request for access to the iPhone of San Bernardino mass shooters.
Vice News and its sister publication Motherboard last week reported that BlackBerry may have helped Royal Canadian Mounted Police obtained BlackBerry's global cryptographic key, allowing the Police to read all messages sent between BlackBerry smartphones. Messages sent between members of a suspected criminal organization in Montreal.
This provoked a reaction from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for better oversight of Canadian security and intelligence agencies.
The RCMP said it had intercepted and decrypted more than one million BlackBerry messages in connection with its investigation, which began in 2010.
Thirty-two people were eventually charged with gangsterism, drug trafficking, extortion, assault and other offenses. All pleaded guilty at trial.
Chen went on to sat that, "For BlackBerry, there is a balance between doing what’s right, such as helping to apprehend criminals, and preventing government abuse of invading citizen’s privacy, including when we refused to give Pakistan access to our servers. We have been able to find this balance even as governments have pressured us to change our ethical grounds. Despite these pressures, our position has been unwavering, and our actions are proof we commit to these principles".