India backs off on Blackberry ban threat
India has followed the United Arab Emirates in backing off from a threat to ban popular services on Blackberry devices, amid growing global concern over access to encrypted information.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said Friday that Research in Motion Ltd., the Canadian maker of the smart phones, has agreed to an interim arrangement for lawful interception of Blackberry messenger services — an instant messaging application — and pledged to provide a final solution by January.
“Accordingly, the … services will continue to be available,” the ministry said in a statement.
Citing national security concerns, India had threatened to ban corporate e-mail and messenger services by August if Research in Motion didn’t come up with a way for the government to monitor them. It then extended the deadline to October. It remains unclear what solution the parties may have reached over encrypted corporate e-mails.
RIM, whose competitive edge rests on ensuring security to its global users, has given no details of the possible concessions that led the UAE and India to back off from their October deadlines for access.
The company said in a statement that it is optimistic about reaching a final solution with Indian regulators. RIM said it had not changed the security architecture for corporate e-mail and that it does not make special deals on access with individual countries.
India is now asking all companies that provide encrypted communications — not just RIM — to install servers in the country to make it easier for the government to obtain users’ data. That would likely affect Gmail provider Google Inc. and Internet phone company Skype SA.
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