The Clock is Ticking: India and RIM Still At an Impasse

By Tracey E. Schelmetic August 27, 2010

If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll know that Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry devices, has been given an Aug. 31 deadline by the government of India to turn over data encryption methodologies so Indian security agencies can keep an eye on messages exchanged over BlackBerry’s encrypted e-mail and messaging services. 

The Indian government is citing security concerns for their demands: terrorist bombs planted in Mumbai by Pakistani militants in November of 2008 and resulting in the death of 173 people were detonated by cell phones. Since then, Indian security officials have stepped up the monitoring of wireless devices.

If RIM fails to comply, Indian officials have promised to shut down the encrypted e-mail and messaging service via an order to Indian wireless service providers that support BlackBerry; namely, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India.

RIM, for its part, continues to insist that it maintains a consistent global standard for data access and does not “do special deals” with individual countries, though there are rumors of special deals made in response to Saudi Arabian and Chinese concerns on maintaining security over encrypted data. Saudi Arabian officials determined this month that they would not ban the encrypted BlackBerry services after reaching a preliminary agreement with RIM to place a server in the country to facilitate security monitoring. There were also rumors afloat that a back-room deal was made recently between RIM and Chinese officials over transparency into the encrypted services in that country.

Sachin Pilot, India’s minister for state communications and IT, told reporters in New Delhi that, "These concerns have been addressed in other parts of the world, I see no reason why the Indian government and agencies should take any risk at all as far technology is concerned.”

Continued talks this week have apparently produced no resolution, and it’s not clear what happens next.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Contributor

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