Electronic Snooping

SAN FRANCISCO, August 16, 2010 (AFP) – Clashes between the maker of Blackberry smart phones and India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the latest rounds in a cat-and-mouse game pitting authorities against technologies racing beyond their grasp. “Governments can go to the extreme of simply banning such technologies, but the economic ramifications of this would be intolerable for all but the most draconian regimes, like North Korea,” Clarke said.

“What is going on is this elegant dance we go through when countries think their sovereignty is being threatened by new technology,” said Mark Rasch, who headed the computer crimes division at the US Department of Justice for nine years.

“Governments are very ready to deploy technology that invades privacy, but privacy enhancing technologies make them nervous.”

Security experts put the row over Blackberry encryption capabilities in the context of decades of skirmishing around the security implications of new Internet and communications technologies — a battle that today also touches services like Google’s Talk messaging system and the telephone and video services provided by Skype.

In the most high profile case this month, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) said Friday it wa