Thursday, April 3, 2008


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?


Edward G. Hollett said...

Peter: if you check some of the evidence already entered at Cameron, you'll see that some of the e-mails captured by the system are blackberry messages.

The point you raise depnds on whether or not the blackberries are integrated into government's system or left as stand-alones managed through the provider's system.

I suspect that the blackberries bought and paid for by the Crown are integrated into the government system, and those communciations are captured by the government e-mail servers.

Peter L. Whittle said...


As usual you missed my point. Read it again. From the perspective of what I am saying, not from the perspective of how can I tear this post up?

E-mails are archived. They run through the server. PIN's do not have to run through a similar system because they are Peer to Peer. Thats was my point, a PIN message is in a sort of "Cone of Silence"

The point is that all e-mail runs through the government servers. PIN's do not. Each blackberry has a unique eight digit ID number that you can access directly. PINS are not l e-mail.

If you work for government and have a blackberry you get e-mail a couple of ways. Through your desk top, via remote mail (Novel/Groupwise) or on your blackberry. All mail to your gov account is routed to the blackberry via the server. Alas there is a record of emails to all devices. A PIN bypasses all of this even if the e-mail is managed by the governments system.

Some companies have installed devices that track PIN communications but there are recent developments and I am not sure what the Provincial Government's policy is.

Which was the point of the post. Surely you can tell that I am talking about blackberry PIN technology and not e-mails.

Or did you even take the time to read the post before pounding out another attempt to be critical of me?

Edward G. Hollett said...


Ii read your post and understood your point the first time. if you read my comment you will see I referred to blackberry communciatiosn without limiting it to e-mails.

Unfortunately you seem to have a chip on your shoulder the size of a Douglas Fir such that every comment is taken personally.

Blackberry communications can be monitored. To the best of my understanding the provincial government's system has adapted to deal with the issue you are referring to. Most corporate and government blackberry users have.

if you donated the chip on your shoulder to Abitibi to keep a few hundred people employed at Grand Falls-Windsor, you might be able to find some time to have a productive, useful discussion.

I am not holding my breath, though given you still haven't dealt with the simple issue of the provincial owned, small oil company and your claim that it produces long term benefits for the province. instead you seem to be waiting for the next comment so you can whine about criticism and attack me personally. As I said before, all that does is destroy your own credibility.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Ed you called it blackberry e-mail in your post.

I do not have a chip on my shoulder, but I certainly have a splinter up my ass, and its you!

innocentbystander said...

This little back and forth is quite amusing...