Police authorities in London looking to identify those responsible for instigating the riots in London will contact mobile operators for key communications information rather than handset manufacturers like RIM.
Gartner analyst Leif-Olof Wallin told V3 that any requests made by the police under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act will go to mobile operators, as they own the relevant data.
"It's important to note that police will turn to mobile operators with court orders for lawful intercepts of communications as the data packets are owned by these firms, and include information such as location data to within around 300m," he said.
"RIM will only assist operators by deciphering the security key for the messages that were sent."
Wallin explained that RIM could provide this information for mobile operators within 24 hours, but that UK intelligence agencies could crack the codes with ease if necessary.
"We understand that RIM has a dedicated centre for dealing with requests from operators to decrypt messages, so it is used to dealing with these sorts of requests from operators," he said.
"BlackBerry Messenger only has a low-grade security key that's the same across all BlackBerry devices, so the likes of MI5 could easily decrypt it if they wanted."
V3 contacted the UK's mobile operators to ask whether they are working with the police in this way.
A spokesperson for O2 said: "We are unable to discuss specifics but, clearly, we will co-operate and take advice from the police where needed."
An Everything Everywhere spokesperson said: "Whenever we are approached for help with an investigation, we do as much as we can to support the enquiry and co-operate with the Home Office and UK police forces."
Vodafone and Three had yet to comment at the time of publication.
However, section 54 of the RIP Act stipulates that any person or company ordered to release information to the police is required to "keep secret the giving of the notice, its contents and the things done in pursuance of it", meaning that the operators may be legally unable to reveal whether they have been contacted.
V3 contacted RIM to ask whether the company is working with mobile operators to help in the police investigations, but received the same statement issued on Monday.
The Metropolitan Police has posted photographs on Flickr in a bid to identity those responsible for the looting and rioting.
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