October 25, 2005
The BBC has suspended the BlackBerry personal digital assistant
service used by more than 300 senior executives, including director
general Mark Thompson, after people started receiving emails not
intended for them.
BBC executives are having to revert to phones and computers to run
their fiefdoms, instead of the BlackBerry handheld devices, which
provide a combined mobile phone, email, internet and personal
The BBC BlackBerry service was suspended after some staff began
receiving fragments of emails intended for other users.
"It was brought to our attention by a BlackBerry user that they were
receiving portions of other people's emails in the body of other
emails," a BBC spokesman said. "We immediately suspended the
BlackBerry service and it remains suspended."
The service will continue to be suspended "until we can receive an
absolute guarantee of security from our supplier" a senior BBC insider
BBC executives are said to be "alarmed" that private or commercially
sensitive information could potentially be sent to the wrong people
within the corporation.
BlackBerrys are used by more than 300 senior BBC staff, including Mr
Thompson and his executive board, but also by programme-makers who
need to stay in contact with the office while away filming on
BlackBerry users at the BBC are understood to have been without the
service for at least a week, and Siemens, the corporation's IT
contractor, sent round a message saying it would be down for at least
The BBC's service is supplied by Siemens, BlackBerry and mobile phone
Siemens had not responded to MediaGuardian.co.uk when this article was
In the past couple of years the BlackBerry has established itself as a
ubiquitous symbol of corporate status in the media and other sectors,
with only senior echelons of management within each organisation being
issued with the handheld mobile devices.
However, the BlackBerry has proved a double-edged sword, meaning that
a manager can always be in phone and email contact with their staff,
and vice versa.
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