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BlackBerry ban for French cabinet




BlackBerry ban for French cabinet
BlackBerry ban for French cabinet



http://www.ft.com/cms/s/dde45086-1e97-11dc-bc22-000b5df10621.html 

By Mark Solomons in Paris
June 19 2007 

Members of the new French cabinet have been told to stop using their 
BlackBerries because of fears that the US could intercept state secrets.

The SGDN, which is responsible for national security, has banned the use 
of the personal data assistants by anyone in the presidents or prime 
ministers offices on the basis of a very real risk of interception by 
third parties.

The ban has been prompted by SGDN concerns that the BlackBerry system is 
based on servers located in the US and the UK, and that highly sensitive 
strategic information being passed between French ministers could fall 
into foreign hands.

A confidential study carried out two years ago by Alain Juillet, the 
civil servant in charge of economic intelligence, found that the 
BlackBerry posed a data security problem.

Mr Juillet noted that US bankers would prove their bona fides in 
meetings by first placing their BlackBerries on the table and removing 
the batteries.

Although the foreign ministry is thought to have long taken heed of an 
earlier ban on the use of BlackBerries, members of other government 
departments are said to have been still secretly using the devices.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is often seen with a mobile phone clamped to 
his ear and was engrossed in calls for much of his election day victory 
parade in Paris.

But Mr Sarkozy and his cabinet colleagues face limits on their embrace 
of the digital age. Ministers have complained that the SGDN went ahead 
with the ban but has still to provide advice on alternative options. 
They dont seem to operate in the same time frame as us, complained one.

The BlackBerry has become the favoured communications accessory of 
bankers, journalists and others, but the government is following an 
example set by the French private sector. Total, the oil company, has 
never allowed its staff to use the BlackBerry, also for security reasons 
according to the company. There are plenty of other perfectly good PDAs, 
Total said.

Le Monde, which first reported the ban on Tuesday, said officials feared 
messages could be intercepted by US agencies such as the National 
Security Agency because they ran through servers in the US and Britain.

It quoted Alain Juillet, an official in charge of economic intelligence 
issues as saying that the Blackberry poses a problem of data security.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007


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