BlackBerry Avoids Ban in India

BlackBerry has managed to avoid an immediate ban on its services in India by providing the government's security agencies with lawful access to BlackBerry data.

RIM has agreed to provide access to BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) and BlackBerry Messenger Services (BBM) from September 1.

"RIM has made certain proposals for lawful access by law enforcement agencies, and these would be operationalised immediately," says a statement issued by India's Ministry of Home Affairs.

But the reprieve could be temporary: The government will decide within the next two months whether the access solutions enabled by RIM meet its requirements.

This is the first time RIM has officially agreed to provide law-enforcement agencies with access to its services.

RIM has also agreed to locate BlackBerry services infrastructure in India. The country's Department of Telecommunications is to review the feasibility of BlackBerry services being managed by servers located "only in India." (See Indian Ops Told to Sniff BlackBerrys.)

Earlier this month, the Indian government threatened to shut down BlackBerry services if RIM did not meet demands to allow access to encrypted messenger and email services by August 31. Nine Indian operators currently offer BlackBerry services. (See RIM to Comply in India and Security Storm in India.)

RIM initially said it didn't have a "master key" to unlock the encryption code. However, faced with the prospect of losing around 1 million customers, RIM found a way to provide lawful access to its services. The matter isn't closed, though, as it remains to be seen whether the the current solutions meet all of the Indian government's requirements.

In the meantime, arch rival Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), which has already decided to locate business services servers in India, is waiting in the wings. Nokia stands to gain the most if RIM can't agree a long-term solution with the Indian government.

India isn't RIM's only security concern. Earlier this year, RIM faced security concerns in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Saudi Arabian government has allowed BlackBerry services to continue, but the UAE government is threatening to close down BlackBerry services if an interception agreement isn't struck by October 11. (See BlackBerry Jam in UAE and RIM Reprieve .)

— Gagandeep Kaur, India Editor, Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 4:24:59 PM
re: BlackBerry Avoids Ban in India

RIM looks like it will need a catch-all platform to enable lawful intercept, otherwise it will end up using a lot of resources, and even face service interruption/bans, if it finds itself developing a bespoke response in each market that demands access.

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