Who would have thought that the government would be complaining that BBM is too secure? Apparently that’s the case for Maine. Apparently, unlike most government agencies, Maine doesn’t like to keep secrets.
The public’s right to information about government activities lies at the heart of a democratic government. The Maine Freedom of Access Act (“FOAA”) grants the people of this state a broad right of access to public records while protecting legitimate governmental interests and the privacy rights of individual citizens. The act also ensures the accountability of the government to the citizens of the state by requiring public access to the meetings of public bodies. Transparency and open decision-making are fundamental principles of the Maine Freedom of Access Act, and they are essential to ensuring continued trust and confidence in our government.
BBM is not only a great, easy to use messaging application, but is also secure, keeping our private conversations private. However, this goes against Maine’s FOAA. An employee of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, testified to the Legistlature’s Government Oversight Committee that she had been told to use BBM for business purposes. She claimed that she was specifically told to use BBM for government business because the nature of BBM messages being private and untraceable. The problem that Maine is facing, is that while text messages are specifically listed in the FOAA, messenger apps are not. They are currently looking in to the option of banning BBM for state business purposes.
There are a few things that we can take from this situation. Number one, our BBM messages really are as secure as we think they are. You don’t see Maine up in arms over Whatsapp or iMessage, when we know that both these applications are more widely used than BlackBerry at this point in time. We know how insecure Whatsapp is, and that there have been lots of issues with Whatsapp’s reliability. And with the recent findings of many security holes in iPhone, it’s no surprise that a state government is focusing on BBM where they will not be able to pull the messages without a participant in a chat providing it to them. It would also be no surprise to me that an employee that is carrying a BlackBerry was told to use BBM. BBM is just a great app, and now that it is cross platform, I’ve told all my friends and family to use it.
If Maine wants the general public to know what is going on in government employees phone’s, well, they’re on the wrong platform. This will probably be the only time you hear me give this advice, but if Maine wishes to make everything on a phone public record, they really need to use iPhones. Then they should spend that dollar a year and put all the employees on Whatsapp. With this winning combination, there is no doubt that everyone will know what’s going on in the state government’s phones. Meanwhile, I’ll be on my BlackBerry phones, running BBM, and knowing that my conversations are private.