Not any more

India grants BlackBerry 60-day reprieve

In Canada on August 30, 2010 at 11:55

NEW DELHI – India gave the makers of BlackBerry a 60-day reprieve Monday as it reported headway in a bid to settle a security standoff that could have seen key features of the smartphone shut down this week.

The announcement came after G.K. Pillai, the top home ministry bureaucrat, met government officials, security chiefs and representatives of Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian manufacturers of BlackBerry, in New Delhi.

"The Home Ministry will review the security issue relating to Blackberry services within 60 days, by which time the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) will submit its report," a government statement said.

India threatened earlier this month it would ban messages sent on the smartphones unless the company came up with a way for security agencies to decode the heavily encrypted traffic by August 31.

RIM had made "certain proposals for lawful access by law enforcement agencies and these would be operationalised immediately and the feasibility of the solutions offered would be accessed thereafter," the home ministry statement said.

India, which struggles with a host of home-grown insurgencies and threats from terror groups based in neighbouring Pakistan, is worried heavily encrypted emails and other messages on the BlackBerry phones could be used by militants.

The statement capped weeks of talks between RIM and the government on ways monitoring could work without the firm abandoning its public commitment not to directly aid governments in decoding its messages.

There was no immediate comment from RIM, which has insisted that it makes no "special deals" with any government involving access to communications carried on its handsets.

Analysts say its commercial success has been partly due to its gold-plated data protection reputation.

At the same time, analysts have noted other security-conscious nations such as China and Russia appear to be satisfied that their intelligence agencies have sufficient access to BlackBerry communications, although the specifics of the arrangements between RIM and the countries are not known.

BlackBerry, which has 1.1 million users in India, has also been facing a threatened ban by the United Arab Emirates and is negotiating with Saudi Arabia on security issues.

© Copyright (c) AFP

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