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India threatens BlackBerry ban

by Sarah Griffiths on 12 August 2010, 17:05

Tags: RIM (TSE:RIM)

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BlackBerry jam

The Indian government has demanded Research in Motion (RIM) addresses its security fears over the firm's encrypted BlackBerry services or it will ban the phone's messaging functions.

India is the latest country to attempt to push RIM into making data from its encrypted messages available to officials after the firm reached a deal with Saudi Arabia last week.

According to Reuters, India's ultimatum, which threatens to ban BlackBerry email and IM if its needs are not met by 31 August, was issued after government officials, intelligence and the country's telecoms operators held talks about how it could access encrypted content held by RIM's servers located outside the country.

"If a technical solution is not provided by 31st August, 2010, the Government will review the position and take steps to block these two services from the network," said India's government.

Once again, RIM has not commented on its latest international headache and is already under pressure from the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Lebanon, which are all pressing for access.

A ban in India may be of particular concern for the Canadian manufacturer as it is reportedly the world's fastest growing mobile market. A ban on the two phone functions could hit over one million people, restricting owners of the increasingly popular handset in only using its calling and internet browsing functions.

Reuters said an anonymous senior internal security official in India said: "RIM has assured us they will come with some solution. It remains to be seen whether they address our security concerns."

India demanded access to the encrypted communications as it feared the phones could be used by militants, especially as satellite phones were used in the 2008 Mumbai bombings. However, RIM reportedly offered the ability to track emails without sharing the encrypted details, but the suggestion was rejected.

Last week, RIM met with the Saudi authorities and agreed a deal to allow the country's government to keep an eye on users' messages, although their emails will remain private. Details of the deal are sketchy, with RIM previously stating it could not provide a decryption key.

It is not yet known what effect the move will have on BlackBerry's image and popularity with corporate users. Interestingly, Reuters reported the German government has told staffers to bin BlackBerrys, with other ministries banning them. The European Union is also said to have swapped to other handsets.

As Apple and Android smartphones gain popularity in the West and squeeze RIM's market share, the company has had to look for business in the Gulf and emerging markets.



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Ridiculous.. So in these countries your not allowed to have private conversations anymore. RIM should have never backed down in Saudi as now every country will wont the same treatment.