India Pushes for BlackBerry Access

By Cindy Waxer January 31, 2011

India is refusing to take no for an answer. According to a Reuters report, the nation of 1.1 million BlackBerry users rejected Research In Motion’s offer of partial access to its BlackBerry data services. The BlackBerry manufacturer had been given until Jan. 31, to fulfill India’s demands to monitor encrypted corporate e-mail, citing security concerns. It’s unknown how India plans to respond to BlackBerry’s refusal to allow unfettered access to its data services.

Ever since terrorist bombs planted in Mumbai by Pakistani militants in November of 2008 were detonated by cell phones, Indian security officials have stepped up the monitoring of wireless devices and data. As reported by TechZone360.com, late last year, Indian officials threatened to shut down BlackBerry’s encrypted e-mail and messaging service via an order to Indian wireless service providers that support BlackBerry; namely, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India.

If India sanctions BlackBerry for refusal to allow full and open monitoring of encrypted messaging, it may set a precedent that could hurt companies with a reputation built on system security, according to the Associated Press. It may also open up the market to BlackBerry’s biggest rivals in India, which is the fastest growing wireless market in the world: namely, competitors Apple and Nokia may reap a windfall.

In the meantime, neighboring Pakistan has reversed its earlier decision to restrict access to BlackBerry services. Reuters reports that although Pakistani officials ordered mobile phone operators to stop granting BlackBerry services to foreign missions, the instruction was later reversed.

Several other countries, most of them in the Middle East but also including China, have expressed concern to RIM that BlackBerry devices might be used to terrorist activities or distribute pornography. In fact, earlier this month, RIM agreed to deploy Internet pornography filters in Indonesia after being threatened with a blackout for its two million users, according to a Guardian News and Mail report.

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Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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