Blackberry’s battle with India goes on

Reports that the smartphone manufacturer had solved its problems with New Delhi turn out to be premature writes Neeta Lal for Asia Sentinel.

Despite a protracted three-year contest with India’s security agencies that was thought to be solved late last year, the fate of BlackBerry’s encrypted email and messaging services in India continues to be uncertain.

It is a contest that is being watched closely across the world by other governments dueling with Research in Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of the ubiquitous smartphone. International government concerns have grown considerably because of the fact that Egyptian protesters using Blackberry devices were mostly able to escape Cairo’s crackdown on communications with the outside world until the Mubarak government fell.

Pic: Asia Sentinel.

India, concerned over the ability of militants to use heavily encrypted communications as a tool in jeopardize national security, has been demanding the encryption keys to BlackBerry’s servers since the service debuted in India in 2008. Moreover, the government is insisting that all communications service providers – including Google and Skype – allow surveillance of their networks.

Because of its unique geopolitical dynamics, India is battling insurgencies from Kashmir in the northwest to the far-flung northeast. During the 2008 Mumbai carnage, a handful of mobile and satellite phone-wielding extremists wrought havoc in India’s financial capital, killing 166 people and destroying property worth billions.