India Approves BlackBerry Messenger Services

By Cindy Waxer October 29, 2010

Research in Motion has reason to rejoice. The government of India has announced that BlackBerry messenger services should be able to continue in the country now that the Canadian company has guaranteed that law enforcers will be able to monitor encrypted data.

According to several reports, earlier this year, India threatened to ban BlackBerry services unless RIM made them accessible to its security agencies. Research In Motion Vice President Robert E. Crowe met with Home Ministry officials in New Delhi to try to avoid the ban.

It’s important to keep in mind that the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai were coordinated with satellite and cell phones. In fact, officials performed a comprehensive security review of telecommunications ahead of the Commonwealth Games, held in New Delhi in October.

"RIM has set up an interim arrangement for lawful interception of Blackberry or BBM (BlackBerry messenger) services" and has promised to provide "a final solution,” the federal home ministry said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from BlackBerry.

Similarly, earlier this month, just days before a moratorium was set to take effect on BlackBerry services, the United Arab Emirates resolved its dispute with the Canadian device maker. Previously, the UAE threatened it would suspend BlackBerry Messenger, e-mail and Web browser services from Oct. 11, unless RIM figured out a way to locate encrypted servers in the country, so that the government could control access to messages.

The ban would have impacted 500,000 subscribers. Countries including Saudi Arabia have also threatened to cut off services but managed to reach an agreement with RIM in recent months.

With 1.1 million mobile users, RIM simply couldn’t afford to lose India as a customer. In fact, according to a report by tech trend firm ComScore, RIM is fast losing market share to Google’s Android operating system. Among the report’s key findings is that consumer awareness of Google’s Android is growing rapidly, due in large part to the Verizon Droid ad campaign. In other words, this is no time to alienate an entire country.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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