Research In Motion's official BlackBerry blog was defaced earlier today in retaliation for the company's apparent decision to assist the London police.
It's still unclear what assistance, if any, RIM has extended to the London police, who are combating widespread street unrest that has wracked England's capital for the last several days. A spokesman for RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But yesterday, RIM tweeted that it felt sympathy for people "impacted by the riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can."
That was enough to trigger a response from a group calling itself Team Poison, which subsequently posted a message on RIM's BlackBerry blog and announced on Twitter that it had compromised the site. It then fired a warning shot of sorts, threatening to release access to the company's database if RIM shares information that helps the police make arrests.
BlackBerry Messenger has emerged as a key--some say the main--communications vehicle for people participating in the riots. A recent study named BlackBerry as the most common handset used by British teens, with some 37 percent owning one. Unlike Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, messages sent via BlackBerry are encrypted and thus private.
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Parliament member David Lammy today called for a suspension of the BlackBerry service, suggesting authorities are a technological step behind. "This is one of the reasons why unsophisticated criminals are outfoxing an otherwise sophisticated police force," he tweeted. "BBM is different as it is encrypted and police can't access it."
The online takedown was of a piece with a spate of similar moves carried out recently by by self-styled hacktivists who have justified their attacks on Web sites on political grounds. Here is Team Poison's statement in full:
You Will _NOT-- assist the UK Police because if u do innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a blackberry will get charged for no reason at all, the Police are looking to arrest as many people as possible to save themselves from embarrassment.... if you do assist the police by giving them chat logs, gps locations, customer information & access to peoples BlackBerryMessengers you will regret it, we have access to your database which includes your employees information; e.g - Addresses, Names, Phone Numbers etc. - now if u assist the police, we _WILL-- make this information public and pass it onto rioters.... do you really want a bunch of angry youths on your employees doorsteps? Think about it.... and don't think that the police will protect your employees, the police can't protect themselves let alone protect others..... if you make the wrong choice your database will be made public, save yourself the embarrassment and make the right choice. don't be a puppet.
p.s - we do not condone in innocent people being attacked in these riots nor do we condone in small businesses being looted, but we are all for the rioters that are engaging in attacks on the police and government.... and before anyone says "the blackberry employees are innocent" no they are not! They are the ones that would be assisting the police.
This story originally appeared on CBSNews.com.