PlayBook Wins Government Security Certification

by Steve Wildstrom   |   July 22nd, 2011

Under the right circumstances, a bug really can become a feature.

Research In Motion announced today that its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has been certified under Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2, meaning it is approved for nonclassified communications by U.s. government agencies and contractors who must comply with the Federal Information Management Standards Act. It is the first tablet to win this certification.

This speedy approval appears to be a direct consequence of what nearly everyone considers the PlayBook’s greatest weakness. The tablet has no email, contacts, calendar, or task program of its own, but instead serves as a sort of dumb display for a paired BlackBerry handset. Potentially sensitive information is never stored on the PlayBook, making it easy for the tablet to piggyback on BlackBerry’s existing FIPS certification.

The approval does give the slow-selling PlayBook a leg up in the government market. Unfortunately for RIM, a tight budgets and the ponderous federal procurement process make an imminent flood of government orders unlikely.

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Steve Wildstrom

Steve Wildstrom is veteran technology reporter, writer, and analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area. He created and wrote BusinessWeek’s Technology & You column for 15 years. Since leaving BusinessWeek in the fall of 2009, he has written his own blog, Wildstrom on Tech and has contributed to corporate blogs, including those of Cisco and AMD and also consults for major technology companies.