Say again?BlackBerry as part of the U.S. critical infrastructure?

Published 19 January 2006

BlackBerry, in desperate effort to ward off court injunction, claims to be an integral part of U.S. critical infrastructure

In the summer of 1981, a few month after it took office, the Reagan administration, in a cost-cutting move, cut $1 billion from federal child-nutrition funding. It then gave the Department of Agriculture (USDA) ninety days to come up with new standards which would enable school districts to economize without compromising nutrition. What did USDA do? It classified ketchup as a vegetable. The firestorm which ensued forced the administration to rescind the classification.

Why this walk down memory lane? Because Waterloo, Ontario, Canada-based Research In Motion (RIM) urged a U.S. court to classify its BlackBerry e-mail device as part of the U.S. critical infrastructure. The company has been engaged in a bitter patent litigation with Arlington, Virginia-based NTP over the underlying functionality of BlackBerry’s e-mail system. In its filing with the court, RIM said that this e-mail service was such vital part of the nation’s economic security, and also of the U.S. emergency and disaster planning, that any shut-down of the service would have grave consequences for the U.S. critical infrastructure. It would be extraordinarily impractical, if not impossible, to devise and administer an injunction that would protect government and private sector BlackBerry users who would be, or should be, excluded from an injunction, RIM said in its filing. We wonder what U.S. District Judge James Spencer, who is presiding over the case in Richmond, Virginia, would think of this novel argument.

-read more in Susan Decker’s Bloomberg report