BlackBerry Ban Threatened In India

Aug 13th, 2010 | By technologynews | Category: Technology

The Indian government has imposed a deadline of Aug. 31 on
Research In Motion to open its BlackBerry encryption to security officials or
risk being shutdown.

[The Department of Telecommunications] has been asked to
convey to service providers that two BlackBerry services[,] namely Business
Enterprise Services and Messenger Services[,] be made accessible to law
enforcement agencies by August 31, a
spokesperson from Indias Ministry of Home Affairs told the Times of India
If a technical solution is not provided by that date, the government will
review the position and take steps to block these two services from the

RIMs solution will apparently need to pass muster with
Indian security agencies such as the National Technical Research Organization.
Indias Department of Communications had previously voiced the belief that
terrorists, or other miscreants, could send unbreakable messages thanks to
BlackBerrys security system, which utilizes private encryption keys assigned
specifically to individual users.

Other BlackBerry services, such as voice-calls and SMS
messaging, would not be affected by the Aug. 31 shutdown.

Indian government may be studying RIMs recent agreement with Saudi Arabia
which wanted the smartphone manufacturer to enact similar changes to its
devices security profile. The Saudi government had originally threatened to
shut down RIMs BlackBerry Messenger service by Aug. 6 if its concerns remained
unaddressed, leading to several rounds of frantic negotiations.

On Aug. 10, Saudi Arabias Communication and Information
Technology Commission told The Wall Street Journal that the BlackBerry
Messenger service would be allowed to continue, following positive
developments in the completion of part of the regulatory requirements on the
part of service providers.

However, the exact terms between RIM and the Saudi
government remained unclear, with the Commission saying only that it continues
to work with service providers to complete the remainder of the regulatory

India and Saudi Arabia could be the tip of the proverbial
iceberg, according to at least one analyst.

Countries in Asia and the Middle East that already have
relatively tight PC Internet controls will increasingly turn their regulatory
focus to wireless data services as they become more popular, Neil Mawston, an
analyst with Strategy Analytics, told eWEEK. RIM can probably expect more
governments to come asking for negotiations in the coming months.

RIM has traditionally pushed back against government interference
into its encryption policy, arguing that its corporate clients need the
BlackBerrys ironclad security. However, governments and law enforcement
officials have complained over the years that
criminals gravitate toward BlackBerry for exactly that reason

The BlackBerry Torch 9800, RIMs
attempt at capturing both the consumer and business smartphone markets,
officially launched on Aug. 12
. In addition to a capacitive touch-screen
and sliding QWERTY keyboard, the device includes the companys new BlackBerry 6
operating system.


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