Exemption for Government BlackBerry Users Riles Regular Users

Exemption for government BlackBerry users riles others facing shutdown

'They're sticking it to private business,' says one CIO

News Story by Matt Hamblen

JANUARY 26, 2006 (COMPUTERWORLD) - Government workers and emergency personnel would be exempt from a possible shutdown of BlackBerry wireless e-mail service in the U.S., a situation that has private-sector users steaming.

"They're sticking it to private business," said John Wade, CIO at St. Luke's Health System in Kansas City, Mo. St. Luke's supports nearly

500 health care workers using the BlackBerry service.

In the ongoing patent lawsuit brought by NTP Inc. against Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), NTP adjusted its injunction request in a Jan. 17 memorandum to a federal judge, saying it will not seek to stop BlackBerry service for federal, state and local government users as well as certified first responders.

Explaining that change today, NTP attorney James Wallace Jr. said that NTP is complying with a federal law that says federal workers must be automatically exempted. As for the other government entities, he said: "We're not nasty, vindictive people and we're trying to help emergency responders. But purely commercial people are going to have to stop using BlackBerry unless RIM pays" licensing fees to NTP. "RIM chose not to take out a license, and the time of the free ride is over."

While several IT managers said in interviews that they doubt a court-ordered shutdown would ever take effect, they are miffed by the possibility of an exemption for public-sector users.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: That is the way things so often are done. The government rarely -- if ever -- has to follow the laws and rules it imposes on its citizenry; that is because the government's purposes are always so noble and good and pure. If you think this anticipated Blackberry fiasco stinks please recall several years ago when the Justice Department was upgrading some of its software; the end result was they bought _ONE_ copy of Westlaw stuff and then proceeded to install that ONE copy of thousands of desktop computers in the Justice Department. Westlaw complained, but to no avail; I guess they are still complaining. And the government, which will continue to use Blackberry equipment all it wants will be quite happy to seize _your_ Blackberry if you are caught using it, because their motives are -- you guessed it -- pure and noble and good. PAT]

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