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Govt, BlackBerry maker to meet today over security issues

Govt, BlackBerry maker to meet today over security issues
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First Published: Thu, May 29 2008. 01 53 AM IST
Updated: Thu, May 29 2008. 01 53 AM IST
New Delhi: BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd, or RIM, will meet Indian government officials on Thursday to address security concerns, but analysts say an amicable solution would be difficult.
India’s security agencies have said the services offered by BlackBerry email devices posed a risk as emails sent using it could not be traced or intercepted, and the government has written to RIM asking it to put servers in India.
“There is a meeting tomorrow,” said a telecom ministry official, who did not want to be identified. A spokesman for RIM declined comment.
The government has held a series of meetings with RIM and mobile operators, and telecom minister Andimuthu Raja said last week the Canadian firm had assured the government to provide a solution in two months. Later however, Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM said in a note sent to its Indian customers that the company does not have a copy of the customer’s encryption key and would “simply be unable to accommodate” any such request.
RIM, which has 114,000 BlackBerry subscribers in India, has maintained it operates in 135 countries and uses a security architecture that has been scrutinised over the last nine years and has been accepted by security-conscious corporations and governments around the world.
“RIM does not possess a ‘master key’, nor does any ‘back door’ exist in the system that would allow RIM or any third party to gain unauthorized access to the key or corporate data,” it said in the statement to customers.
Vijay Mukhi, an expert on Internet security, said it was hard to believe that nobody possesses a key. “America has spent billions of dollars for monitoring the cyberspace. I don’t believe they would allow BlackBerry to operate if nobody has the encryption key,” he said.
Another industry official said putting servers in India could be the other option RIM could look at. “You don’t give the code, but a put a server and give access to that and then talk to the security agencies what they want,” said T.V. Ramachandran, director general of the Cellular Operators’ Association of India that represents nine mobile operators including three of the BlackBerry-service providers.
India, wary of militant attacks, has been touchy about Internet services, including Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., according to media reports. Google has allowed Indian government access to decipher information from its social networking site Orkut.
“There is actually a concern,” said Mukhi. “Terrorists do use technology and they would some day or may be they are already using BlackBerry services. So how do you stop them?”
Bharti Airtel Ltd, Reliance Communications Ltd, Vodafone Group Plc. controlled Vodafone Essar Ltd and BPL Mobile offer BlackBerry services in India.
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First Published: Thu, May 29 2008. 01 53 AM IST
More Topics: BlackBerry | RIM | Telecom | Security | COAI |