Ottawa (AFP) – Canadian federal police have been able to eavesdrop on messages sent between BlackBerry smartphones since at least 2010 using an encryption key it obtained, according to an online news magazine.
The revelation was made in court documents obtained by Vice and its sister publication Motherboard.
The technical files submitted to the court by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police relate to surveillance of Montreal crime syndicates as part of a 2011 gangland murder probe.
Law enforcement intercepted and decrypted about one million BlackBerry messages in connection with the investigation, Vice said in its report Thursday.
The suspects in the case all pleaded guilty.
Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry declined to comment to AFP on the story.
It is believed that corporate and government users of BlackBerry devices are not impacted, since each has control over its own key on its servers.
In the court filings cited by Vice, the RCMP said the key could be used to break the encryption on virtually any BlackBerry message sent from one device to another without the user’s knowledge.
It was not known how authorities obtained the key. It was also unclear whether BlackBerry has changed the encryption code since the trial.