Skip to main content

Weekend Roundup: BlackBerry's rotten 2013, new twists in NSA PRISM drama, and Jimmy Wales slams UK government web censorship

BlackBerry's rotten year culminates in resignation of CEO Heins

It's never going to be totally couth breathing a sigh of relief when someone loses their job, but you can't help but feel Thorsten Heins' recent departure from BlackBerry is something of a blessing.

Once the company's potential messiah, Heins has been a dead man walking for a good few months now, after BlackBerry 10 and devices like the BlackBerry Z10 failed to set the mobile market alight in the necessary way.

The real problem with BlackBerry is that it is failing to adapt to the demands of the BYOD era. With work and play now well and truly converged, punters simply want the best mobile and expect IT to accommodate their choice, as opposed to having to seek out an enterprise-specific device. BlackBerry, to date, has aligned itself almost exclusively with the latter, rapidly outdated movement.

That could all change. With Heins now off to the glue factory, Chinese tech titan Lenovo could intensify its efforts to acquire the seemingly doomed fruit-themed firm, though its recent attempt to buy BlackBerry was blocked by the Canadian government. Nevertheless, there's a huge sense of 'watch this space' over BlackBerry's future and we wouldn't be at all surprised to see more significant developments come out of Ontario before the end of the year.

For more, check out Aatif Sulleyman's feature on BlackBerry's woeful 2013, which provides a blow-by-blow account of the company's disastrous annum.

NSA & GCHQ snooping showdown sees Sir Tim Berners-Lee clash with UK security heads

It was another busy week on the NSA/GCHQ front, headlined by a prickly war of the words between web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the intelligence chiefs at the heart of snooping scandal. On the one side, Berners-Lee was robust in his criticism of NSA and GCHQ methods, saying that attempts to get around encryption were "appalling and foolish" and demanding a "full and frank public debate" in the wake of the leaks brought to light by whisteblower Edward Snowden.

In the other corner, a trio of UK intelligence chiefs vigorously defended their spying programme during a televised public grilling. Facing questions from the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), GCHQ director Sir Iain Lobban, head of MI5 Andrew Parker, and head of MI6 Sir John Sawers claimed to have thwarted some 34 terror plots on the back of their surveillance efforts - apparently justifying the tactics involved and the £2 billion cost of maintaining the scheme.

That was enough for Sir Malcom Rifkind, who said we had witnessed a "very significant step forward in the transparency of our intelligence agencies." Others were decidedly less than convinced, with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald slamming the ISC hearing: "The system has failed to exercise meaningful accountability," he noted.

Alfresco Summit 2013 lights up Barcelona

ITProPortal was lucky enough to be invited to attend the European leg of Alfresco Summit 2013, and we duly jetted down to Barcelona for the jam-packed three day conference. Appropriately, given that Alfresco specialises in enterprise content management platforms, we enjoyed access to a wealth of top stories, most of which you won't find anywhere else on the web. All of the action from the Catalan city can be relived by heading for our Alfresco Summit 2013 coverage hub, but one particular talking point was our private interview with Jimmy Wales. We'll rollout a full feature based on our chat with Mr Wiki in due course, but in the meantime, find out what Jimmy Wales thinks of David Cameron and the UK's digital censorship policies.