Follow rules or shut shop: BlackBerry told

Govt says BlackBerry will have to address security concerns by offering monitoring facility.

New Delhi: The government has said that the
makers of BlackBerry - Research in Motion (RIM) - have to
address its security concern by offering monitoring facility,
else the popular smartphone company will have to shut its shop
in India.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Department of
Telecommunication to tell the Canadian service provider in no
uncertain terms that its email and other data services must
comply with formats that can be monitored by security and
intelligence agencies.

The MHA made it clear that 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 the same in India.

"If they don`t follow our guidelines, we will have no
option but to ask them to stop their operations in India," an
official said.

The smartphone is used by nearly a million customers in

Government also wants a blackberry server in India but
the company has been delaying the move. Once the server is in
India, it will be easy to track the messages.

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

There are reports that China has got a similar server in
the country.

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

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 it when the message
reaches its target. In 2008, the Indian government had threatened to block
BlackBerry services unless RIM provided intelligence agencies
here access to monitor all data, especially email, routed
through these handsets.

The government had also insisted that 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
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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