1. NotSoKnowing's Avatar
    alright. I'm going to be throwing quite a bit into this post so I hope I managed to get it in an okay category.

    My girlfriend is moving to China, she will be living in Beijing.. There are a few concerns. She is currently staying in Tokyo, Japan. She has a BlackBerry Bold 9650. She likes it well enough, and bought it in Tokyo as she was told she would be able to use it while in Beijing, where she will be living for the next several months. (Does this sound right so far?)

    Here are where concerns come in;

    1. Will she be able to use BBM while in China?
    2. Censorship. According to a Telegraph UK article there was some major censorship by two major providers. Is this still happening?
    3. If the censorship is still rampant, does it apply to BBM?
    4. Is China monitoring other companies messages besides China Mobile or China Unicom?


    Honestly, the censorship thing is what really worries both of us. We're not quite used to having SMS messages, emails, or internet activity watched here in the states, or when she is in Japan.

    So any information/insight into this would be great. The articles about China's monitoring of data was back from January of 2010. So nearly 18 months ago, but since I haven't found anything more recent regarding the issue I can only assume that it is still happening - right?
    07-23-11 05:25 PM
  2. fabfreddie's Avatar
    No fears, BBM is data, encrypted data, not that crappy SMS texting. China allows it, and China nor anyone else in the world can read it, or get through the encryption.

    She made the right choice, make sure she sends some cool pics via BBM and some voice notes too. She's all encrypted and falls under data so as long as she is on wifi all will be safe and fairly inexpensive.
    07-23-11 05:51 PM
  3. NotSoKnowing's Avatar
    No fears, BBM is data, encrypted data, not that crappy SMS texting. China allows it, and China nor anyone else in the world can read it, or get through the encryption.

    She made the right choice, make sure she sends some cool pics via BBM and some voice notes too. She's all encrypted and falls under data so as long as she is on wifi all will be safe and fairly inexpensive.
    I am in love with you right now - but don't tell her!

    Let's break this down so I can explain it to myself again, and to her. LOL :P BBM text messages are data encrypted, preventing China from getting involved. But does he have to be on wifi, or can she simply be using her data plan?

    And even if she has China Mobile or China Unicom there is no way they can touch those messages?
    07-23-11 06:03 PM
  4. NotSoKnowing's Avatar
    Also, what is BES? I am guessing that won't apply to either of us. I have so many questions! lol
    07-23-11 06:37 PM
  5. fabfreddie's Avatar
    I am in love with you right now - but don't tell her!

    Let's break this down so I can explain it to myself again, and to her. LOL :P BBM text messages are data encrypted, preventing China from getting involved. But does he have to be on wifi, or can she simply be using her data plan?

    And even if she has China Mobile or China Unicom there is no way they can touch those messages?
    All can be done on wifi or cellular, except when on cellular the bytes used come off your monthly allowance, if she does it on wifi, then the (500 megs for example) do not get used at all when BBM'ing. In my experience, a sentence in BBM is 3k, so you can chat wifi or cellular to your hearts content without worry, pics and videos should be done over wifi so no overage gets incurred, but that all depends on your wallet and the size of your data plan.

    Rim does not let anyone have access to their servers or encryption, theoretically Rim can't either, though I don't believe that. That is why Corrupt Governments were freaking out at Rim a few months ago. If it's good enough for your Gov'ts intelligence agencies it will be good enough for you.

    Don't forget, if she clicks the BB button on the left and scrolls through her menu, she can send you pictures, voice notes, small video clips and even her location, which u will be able to see on your BB maps instantaneously, and it will all be between you and her, no one will see.

    BES = Blackberry enterprise server. That's heavy duty stuff usually used by Gov'ts and big companies.

    BIS = Blackberry Internet Server, that's what everyone else is on. Basically Rim has it's own servers and networks shadowing all the carriers, it is the actual network all the phones run their data on. No Bis hookup BB no work. If you get an account with a Chinese Telecom they will hook you up to the BIS in China. It's automatic.
    Last edited by fabfreddie; 07-23-11 at 07:08 PM.
    07-23-11 07:04 PM
  6. NotSoKnowing's Avatar
    Okay, but:
    The answer depends on several factors.

    1. What part of the World are you in?

    2. Do you use third party applications?

    If you live in North America or Europe, only Law Enforsement agnecies can gain access to your communications using BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS).

    If you live in the Middle East or South Asia, there is no requirement for a Law Enforsement agency to get involved. All communications are routinely monitored and data mined. That now includes BIS.

    If your BlackBerry is Enterprise connected, you will have the more advanced BES with high strength encryption. Nobody can monitor that.

    If you you install a third party application you risk comprimise of everything, including the GPS chip.
    ^ quote taken from thread

    That makes it seem like anything said on BBM can be taken and decrypted. As well as this quote;


    What we do know from the past year, BIS is encrypted and compressed in transmission, but all BlackBerry share a common security certificate. Any device, including the simulators, can decrypt BIS.

    That means, in Developed Countrys, Law Enforsement agencies can apply for a Court Order to monitor a specific account(s). They do recieve email and BBM content in clear text, with timestamps and trail of custody to make them admissable in Court.

    It also means, developing nations, where legal requriements differ or there is no concept of human rights, any agency that can monitor communications, can also decrypt BIS.

    India acknowlaged they have that technology, provided by Research in Motion, but they do not have the technology to apply to BES with strong encryption. Nobody does, it was created to insure that.

    Radius makes a good point:

    FYI, if the authorities want your info they will get it, you can't stop them.

    Lets say you have information stored on your AES encrypted BlackBerry and you have a password to gain access.

    What do you think your chances of keeping the password confidential are when you are being tortured in some developing nation?
    taken from the same thread.
    07-23-11 07:13 PM
  7. fabfreddie's Avatar
    Okay, but:

    ^ quote taken from thread

    That makes it seem like anything said on BBM can be taken and decrypted. As well as this quote;




    taken from the same thread.

    What you posted is by someone who has no way of knowing the truth at all. What I do know is that all security and intelligence services worth any salt use BB. If it's good enough for them then good enough for me.

    You are sounding paranoid, I highly doubt the Peoples Army will stop what they're doing and throw all their counter espionage weaponry at your visiting girlfriend.

    She'll be fine, just stay within the nations laws and all is rosy. no one will be seeing your private stuff, it is heavily encrypted period. If you notice, all the places where there is turmoil and pic and videos leak, it is by Blackberry. They can't snoop on em.
    07-23-11 07:21 PM
  8. NotSoKnowing's Avatar
    You are sounding paranoid, I highly doubt the Peoples Army will stop what they're doing and throw all their counter espionage weaponry at your visiting girlfriend.

    She'll be fine, just stay within the nations laws and all is rosy. no one will be seeing your private stuff, it is heavily encrypted period. If you notice, all the places where there is turmoil and pic and videos leak, it is by Blackberry. They can't snoop on em.
    Haha. Well, China is pretty psycho. Would just rather avoid the havoc of having her phone turned off by China Mobile, etc.
    07-23-11 07:25 PM
  9. fabfreddie's Avatar
    Not gonna happen.
    07-23-11 07:56 PM
  10. NotSoKnowing's Avatar
    Not gonna happen.
    There are numerous reports of such things happening because China Mobil & China Unicom both have an agreement with the government to report "unhealthy" text messages. They have trigger words which are recognized. It's all in the article I have posted on the first post. The NY Times reported the same thing in January.
    07-23-11 08:00 PM
  11. fabfreddie's Avatar
    IPhone and Android yes, they rely on SMS texting via the cellular network, it is easy to see "keywords".

    BBM is scrambled digital data, they cannot see a single letter let alone any "keywords", and that scrambling is from handset right through to handset.
    07-23-11 08:08 PM
  12. Branta's Avatar
    Let's break this down so I can explain it to myself again, and to her. LOL :P BBM text messages are data encrypted, preventing China from getting involved. But does he have to be on wifi, or can she simply be using her data plan?

    And even if she has China Mobile or China Unicom there is no way they can touch those messages?
    If a state security service takes an interest no messaging can be considered to be fully secure. Why do you think the most sensitive diplomatic mail is still hand carried back to the home country? However you are unlikely to attract that interest with your erm... romantic messages, and BlackBerry is very much new technology for the general public in China, so unlikely to have the same level of officially perceived abuse as SMS and email.

    What you don't say is whether she will be roaming on an existing account, or using new account on the chinese network. The last info I saw suggested a non-national might have some difficulty getting BIS service with an account on the Chinese networks, and she may have to use an offshore account in roaming mode. That is going to be costly, so WiFi would be the preferred route. There is probably no significant difference between cellular or WiFi routing for secrecy (or not) of messaging.
    07-23-11 08:11 PM
  13. NotSoKnowing's Avatar
    If a state security service takes an interest no messaging can be considered to be fully secure. Why do you think the most sensitive diplomatic mail is still hand carried back to the home country? However you are unlikely to attract that interest with your erm... romantic messages, and BlackBerry is very much new technology for the general public in China, so unlikely to have the same level of officially perceived abuse as SMS and email.

    What you don't say is whether she will be roaming on an existing account, or using new account on the chinese network. The last info I saw suggested a non-national might have some difficulty getting BIS service with an account on the Chinese networks, and she may have to use an offshore account in roaming mode. That is going to be costly, so WiFi would be the preferred route. There is probably no significant difference between cellular or WiFi routing for secrecy (or not) of messaging.
    Just talked with her, she'll be keeping her current BB9650 that she has been using in Tokyo. But she will be getting a contract with BIS. Which according to her will have the data plan, and what not.
    07-23-11 08:18 PM
  14. mtint's Avatar
    There are three Telcos in China - China Mobile (GSM+TD-SCDMA), China Telecom (CDMA), China Unicom (GSM+UMTS)

    With 9650 theoretically she should be able to get service from any telco, but the minor issue is CDMA in China uses SIM card, which means with 9650 won't work.

    The options left are Unicom and Mobile, based on the tech standards. But in fact she can get BIS only from China Mobile, as Unicom offers BIS only for corporate subscribers.

    With China Mobile can use only GSM GPRS or EDGE - 3G won't work with 9650. For about 10 USD per month can get 30MB BIS, or for about 15 USD can get 50MB BIS. The service is not full BIS but BIS Lite - which includes BBM and emails. There are not included Facebook and Twitter.

    All the concerns about your girlfriend traffic being censored by Chinese Government, are ... Uh, ... Very lightly speaking are funny. Well, if she plans to get involved in some kind of "underground" activities ...

    On a side note - Telcos do not monitor your traffic, but there are national firewall, known in the press as CGF (China Great Firewall), which is blocking certain websites/IP addresses for being accessed from China.

    Beijing is great city and I am sure your girlfriend will have great time here. Don't get paranoid at all but enjoy the stay.
    07-23-11 09:06 PM
  15. lnichols's Avatar
    I've used BBM in both Beijing and all over Japan. If her BIS is outside of Japan, (in the US or anyplace other than China) then neither the Chinese or Japanese will be able to get to the actual data. Trust me! Otherwise I wouln't be able to deploy VPN's in either country! Pissed off some chinese people at the Silk Market in Beijing when I could pull up info on a Harley Leather Jacket that they copied and was able to push them to $150 instead of the $400+ they were pushing. Ordinarily would be blocked by great Chinese Firewall, but a BIS VPN gets though.
    07-23-11 09:58 PM
  16. NotSoKnowing's Avatar
    The options left are Unicom and Mobile, based on the tech standards. But in fact she can get BIS only from China Mobile, as Unicom offers BIS only for corporate subscribers.

    With China Mobile can use only GSM GPRS or EDGE - 3G won't work with 9650. For about 10 USD per month can get 30MB BIS, or for about 15 USD can get 50MB BIS. The service is not full BIS but BIS Lite - which includes BBM and emails. There are not included Facebook and Twitter.

    All the concerns about your girlfriend traffic being censored by Chinese Government, are ... Uh, ... Very lightly speaking are funny. Well, if she plans to get involved in some kind of "underground" activities ...

    On a side note - Telcos do not monitor your traffic, but there are national firewall, known in the press as CGF (China Great Firewall), which is blocking certain websites/IP addresses for being accessed from China.

    Beijing is great city and I am sure your girlfriend will have great time here. Don't get paranoid at all but enjoy the stay.
    Haha, okay. Very enlightening post. Puts my mind to rest a bit. The reason I think she is going to be with China Unicom is because her dad is with a large company there, which is part of the reason she's going to go and stay there for a few months.

    I'm glad you think that the government isn't going to be interested in a couple's BBM messages. I suppose that does seem rather trivial now that I have typed it out in that matter.

    And yes, I agree, Beijing is going to be a wonderful experience for her.
    07-23-11 10:06 PM
  17. Reed McLay's Avatar
    What you posted is by someone who has no way of knowing the truth at all. What I do know is that all security and intelligence services worth any salt use BB. If it's good enough for them then good enough for me.

    You are sounding paranoid, I highly doubt the Peoples Army will stop what they're doing and throw all their counter espionage weaponry at your visiting girlfriend.

    She'll be fine, just stay within the nations laws and all is rosy. no one will be seeing your private stuff, it is heavily encrypted period. If you notice, all the places where there is turmoil and pic and videos leak, it is by Blackberry. They can't snoop on em.
    I may not have any first hand information about China, but I do have a degree in Computer Science and I am confidant in presenting that information.
    07-23-11 11:30 PM
  18. mtint's Avatar
    Haha, okay. Very enlightening post. Puts my mind to rest a bit. The reason I think she is going to be with China Unicom is because her dad is with a large company there, which is part of the reason she's going to go and stay there for a few months.

    I'm glad you think that the government isn't going to be interested in a couple's BBM messages. I suppose that does seem rather trivial now that I have typed it out in that matter.

    And yes, I agree, Beijing is going to be a wonderful experience for her.
    If she is with China Unicom she cannot get BIS if not being on corporate account but on individual one. To have BIS with China Unicom, on the top of corporate account, she needs 3G SIM contract (won't work on prepaid card) and a package at least 96 yuan per month + 60 yuan for BIS.
    Other downside with China Unicom is that their BIS service processing is very slow - could take weeks, just introduced BIS services in May and not everything is "settled" yet.
    (I am with China Unicom personally, but for short stay do not looks as good solution)

    With China Mobile she can get BIS the same day - just need to go to China Mobile office (plenty in the City) and in 15 min will be done.
    07-24-11 12:21 AM
  19. wangvishal's Avatar
    any clue on any VPN for BB we can use in China to get on Facebook/twitter?
    09-04-11 10:32 AM
  20. mtint's Avatar
    any clue on any VPN for BB we can use in China to get on Facebook/twitter?
    Was using VPN98 and GreenVPN on iOS and Android some time ago, but recently looks like The Firewall blocked them.

    For Twitter can use IM+, it is not blocked as all the traffic goes through IM+ servers. Re Facebook not sure there is an easy solution at the moment.
    09-04-11 11:14 AM
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