RIM records all employee calls

RIM records all employee calls

Summary: BlackBerry maker Research in Motion admitted yesterday that it recorded all employee conversations in the interest of maintaining control over intellectual property.


RIM CIO Robin Bienfait (Credit: RIM)

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion admitted yesterday that it recorded all employee conversations in the interest of maintaining control over intellectual property.

RIM chief information officer Robin Bienfait, during an interview with ZDNet.com.au in Sydney, said that all actions carried out on RIM's internal network were logged, which meant that people who wanted to carry out private conversations might want to bring in personal devices.

"Everything I have that's on RIM is recorded and retained as RIM. So if they want to have a chat with somebody and it's not a chat that's within RIM's domain, then they may want their own personal device," she said.

When asked exactly whether it was conversations, rather than just written information she kept tabs on, Bienfait answered: "Everything. I record everything."

It wasn't a violation of privacy according to Bienfait, who maintained the workers were aware of the surveillance: "They're doing business inside of RIM. Everything they can say or do can be patented... We're not violating anybody's privacy. They're aware that their information is transparent and in visibility."

She added that as a company reliant on its intellectual property, RIM had to be careful. "Their running anything on the RIM network or in our space is something that we have to capture because of disclosure," the executive said.

There is also a high level of caution around the pre-release beta devices which circulate around for employees to act as testers and users. Employees have to keep the devices out of sight when they go off campus so as to avoid people taking photos of the new technology. "We have to trust that they guard it," the CIO said.

Sometimes, breaches have occurred, followed by quick action on the part of the company. "We go take a look at whatever the breach or the leak is and we track it back to who or whatever caused it and we take whatever necessary action," Bienfait said.

Generally, however, employees were quick to say when their devices had been lost in a taxi, she said. "Our people are really, really good. They know their obligations as a beta tester."

In such cases, RIM would wipe the device immediately, so that it was just a piece of hardware. "I can't melt it from the sky yet. I would like that," Bienfait said.

Employees needed to enjoy the opportunity to work with the devices they had a part in manufacturing, since staff can only use BlackBerry devices for work. Bienfait said she had never had to deal with a request to put the iPhone on the network.

She said it freed her from some of the problems which plagued other companies, where IT departments had needed to deal with people wanting devices to be hooked up to the network which might compromise security. "I think it is a challenge for the industry to be able to manage some of the Gen Ys," she admitted.

Yet the eat-home-cooking law didn't hamper employee individuality, Bienfait believed, as employees ran rampant with the customization of their devices. "You can be an individual in our space. You just have to use one of the BlackBerry form factors," she said.

This article was originally posted on ZDNet Autstralia.

Topics: BlackBerry, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Legal, Mobility

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Creepy

    While RIM certainly has the right to do all the things they are talking about, the terms and phrasing used give a creepy spin on how they go about protecting their IP. And she looks so friendly...
    • Being paid to WORK

      Everything about this makes sense to me.

      RIM employees are working for an employer with extreme intellectual property issues.

      RIM employees are being paid to WORK while they're at work, generally better than many employees are paid.

      If RIM employees want to conduct private conversations or send personal e-mails, that's what personal cell phones, breaks, and time spent away from work are for.

      Why whine about conversations/e-mails being recorded/logged when it's on the employer's equipment and the employer's time?

      • And yet sadly, you missed the point completely.

        Now get back to work.
  • shit what a freak

    there should be laws again that that insane woman should be send to mental institute freak
  • it isn't only her...

    the whole system of IP, patents... is creepy and freak... for sure has to be possible to patent a product already done, a trademark... but trying to patent ideas or descriptions or ways to do something... is creepy, weird and freaky.

    i've only one question, is her phone also recorded? is her email logged?

  • it isn't only her...

    it's the whole system of IP, patents... that's creepy and freaky. for sure has to be possible to patent a product or trademark... but trying to patent ways of doing something, descriptions of products that they only exists in the mind/imagination of somebody... is creepy, weird and freaky.

    btw... i wonder if her phone calls are recorded? her emails are logged? Usually the managers like this kind of control over the employees but not over themselves
    • Manager or not...

      We monitor all communications made on the companies servers or phone network.
  • RE: RIM records all employee calls

    If my employer doesn't trust me to keep confidentiality, why should I trust my employer to keep confidential the phone calls I make to doctor, wife, family, insurance co., etc.?
    • SImple -- Don't

      She stated quite clearly -- if it's private, use your own phone.

    • re: RE: RIM records all employee calls

      [i]If my employer doesn't trust me to keep confidentiality, why should I trust my employer to keep confidential the phone calls I make to doctor, wife, family, insurance co., etc.?[/i]

      I don't think RIM is doing this out of lack of trust. The woman in the article said "everything they do or say can be patented," and, sadly, that's not far from reality.

      I think they're documenting prior art.

      none none
  • RE: RIM records all employee calls

    good for them, I guess if they convince staff to work under
    such conditions and they continue to innovate then such
    behavior it justifiable. however, if they start losing ground to
    other companies and find it difficult to attract developers and
    talent to their platform then they may want to behave
    differently - oops looks like they should start behaving
  • RE: RIM records all employee calls

    Big brother has arrived, why not say theres a boogey man around, sad, childish and just plan numb.

    How to piss off your employeees, breed mistrust & develop insular departmental feelings.

    Stalin would have been proud of you!!

    • Lets be honest here...

      This is no different than what you should expect if you were to work at a government, and they don't even pay us as much as RIM employees. but for some reason, I still have coworkers...

      I mean, we literally had users moaning at us that we couldnt save the voicemails they'd kept for the last 10 years when we migrated to a VoIP system from cisco, and everyone's happy and a-OK with our voicemails sitting in the email inbox, which is sunshine-law'd from here to the sky and back. And everyone knows we could turn on recording any time we want, and for certain customer-facing positions, we do at certain times. Nobody complained then. Hell, one employee asked us if we'd be able to search them like his emails...

      I guess though, some people are mature and intelligent enough to understand that when you're using equipment that the taxpayers, or investors for that matter, have paid for, you have a degree of accountability to them.

      The fact of the matter is that the RIM bosses have the burden of accountability to the stockholders, and it only takes one big publicized leak that RIM cant pin down to the minute of conversation for a single influential investor to bring a class action against them. Companies in RIM's position understand that, and I would hazard a guess that the employees of RIM understand it too.

      It's not an internal trust issue. The RIM suit even went and said that RIM employees are very good about owning up when they lose a device. It's the big bosses, the Board, and the investors that you have to be accountable to, and you can bet if I was in her shoes, I wouldn't want my head on the chopping block any more than i'd want to report quarterly losses.

      Data retention is a fact of life, and if you're not up to something wrong*, it's really quite useful.

      *personal counts as wrong on corp or govt owned things, unless you just don't care about e-discovery and sunshine laws.
  • RE: RIM records all employee calls

    Guess she'll have to use a pay phone when a corporate headhunter contacts her to offer her a job elsewhere.
    • :-)

      That clown ...she probably uses an "iPhone" on "Sprint's" network to avoid such scrutiny!
  • So?

    Company network.

    Company time.

    No issues of privacy are involved.
    Hallowed are the Ori
    • company + company time = no privacy issues

      1. math does not add up.

      2. not good enough math for everybody - impacts recruitment and

      3. when companies send their employees on sailing, sports, golf and
      other graft trips - are they listening?

      4. i believe in the rights of the person over and above that of the
      company - name a few american companies you actually trust with your
      professional or personal privacy.
      • Like our children?

        Do we, as parents, have the rights over what our children watch? Do we have rights to view their computer browsing or emails? Do we have the right to tell our children that we feed them, cloth them, and provide shelter, so we have the final say in their private lives?

        We have reasons that are acceptable to us as to why we do, and so does a company like RIM.
        • ...so let me get this right

          employer:employee :: parent:child?
          • Not really one to one

            The Parent has the knowledge and experience to understand the ramifications of bad choices made by those in their care, so our "word is law", and we monitor thier lives to protect not only their interest and futures, but that of the entire household.

            Is that not the responsibility of any company; to protect the entire "household" from bad choices made by an employee? Can they not chose the lengths as to which they go to protect that, as we do as parents?