Thursday, April 3, 2008
ROLL UP THE RIM!
All of the talk of missed or overlooked e-mail communications got me to thinking a little bit more about ways officials can communicate with one another. It is pretty hard today not to leave a paper trail. Hard drive back-ups, digitization, centralized e-mail archives, phone logs and many others. Besides the face to face, one-on-one talk, a paper trail or an electronic record is nearly always left behind.
Except that electronic communication between government officials is not limited to e-mail or cell phones. The introduction of the Blackberry married those two together and RIM's Blackberry also has a kind of back door that allows messages to be exchanged without leaving a trail to be archived.
Enter SMS/PIN text messages and ubiquitous Blackberry PIN (Personal Identification Number) messages. PIN's are a universal identifier for every Blackberry device in existence. Every Blackberry has a unique eight-digit number
MS and PIN messages never pass through your email systems and therefore will not be archived by your email archiving solution. Users assume that PIN messages are secure and untraceable. Neither is necessarily the case but if your employer is not archiving the messages you can be assured they will not come back to haunt you.
The PIN is Blackberry’s own proprietary user addressing system. Every Blackberry has one and Blackberry users can send PIN messages to each other as easily as they can send emails or text messages. PIN messages are “peer to peer” and can only go from one Blackberry to another.
Many business organizations have had to ensure employees deactivate these features to ensure they are regulatory compliant for audits.
It would be interesting to know the Auditor General's position on the use of SMS/test messages on Provincial Government Blackberries which leave no trail to audit. Is the Government an enterprise that needs to keep track of employee communications? Does a list of all e-mail communication include the messages through a PIN to PIN exchange?
Does the PIN allow communication through a bit of black hole? Is it even significant? I would be interested to hear from people in the financial community (or other businesses) whose corporations are subject to audits that prevent the use of PINS. What is the federal government position on the use of PINs?
Posted by Peter L. Whittle