BlackBerry to address India`s concerns

The RIM has assured the govt that its security concerns will be addressed.

New Delhi: The government on Thursday said the
makers of BlackBerry - Research in Motion (RIM) - has given an assurance to it on soon addressing its security concerns and hoped that the Canadian service provider and security agencies
would be on the "same page".

"BlackBerry has assured the Ministry of Home Affairs that
the issue of monitoring of the BlackBerry will be sorted out
soon...I am sure we will soon be on the same page and our
concerns will be addressed," Special Security (Internal
Security) in the MHA Utthan Kumar Bansal told reporters on the
sidelines of a function here.

Government has already warned the popular smartphone
company that if it does not allow it to monitor emails and
SMSes to address security concerns, it will have to close
down operations in the country, spelling trouble for over a
million BlackBerry users in India.

The government has said the RIM will have to address its
security-related issues by allowing monitoring facility in

Bansal said the Department of Telecommunication was the
nodal authority which makes the policy and it was working to
address the issue raised by the MHA.

The MHA has asked the DoT to tell the company in no
uncertain terms that its emails and other data services must
comply with formats that can be monitored by security and
intelligence agencies.

There are reports that China has got a server in that
country and the MHA asked the DoT to check whether it is true.
Government also wants a BlackBerry server in India but
the company has been resisting the move. Once the server is in
India, it will be easier to track the messages.

The MHA maintains that the RIM has been addressing
security concerns of several other countries, including the
United States, where it operates and, therefore, there is no
justification to not comply with the same in India.

BlackBerry says the messages are encrypted. The
smartphone`s server is based in Canada where the encryption
level is very high and extremely difficult to crack. And any
message going through a Canada server is encrypted and,
therefore, cannot be accessed by intelligence agencies in

Senior officials of key security agencies at a recent
meeting argued that the continuation of BlackBerry services in
the present format poses danger to the country. The meeting
was attended by representatives of the MHA, DoT, intelligence
agencies and the National Technical Research Organisation

The latest development indicates that security agencies
are again finding it difficult to intercept or decipher
messages sent through these phones, which use codes with an
encryption of 256 bits.

This encryption code first scrambles the emails sent from
a BlackBerry device and unscrambles them when the message
reaches its target.

In 2008, the Indian government had threatened to block
BlackBerry services unless the RIM provided intelligence
agencies here access to all data, especially emails, routed
through these handsets.

The government had also insisted that the RIM put in
place a system that would allow them to intercept data sent
through these handsets as it feared that these services could
be exploited by terrorists.

After several rounds of talks between the government and
the RIM, the telecom department, in late 2008, had announced
that the issue had been resolved.

Leading telecom companies in India such as Bharti Airtel,
Vodafone Essar, Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices,
BSNL and MTNL offer BlackBerry services.


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