Toronto: BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) as said it would allow Indian security agencies only to do legal monitoring of data of its subscribers, although India has asked the smartphone vendor to provide access to e-mail and messenger data or face ban.
“The only time it allows carriers to access the data sent via BlackBerry devices is in the case of national security situations, and even then, only as governed by the country’s judicial oversight and rules of law,” the Canada-based Research In Motion said in a statement on Thursday.
India has threatened to shut down BlackBerry e-mail and instant messaging services by 31 August, unless RIM granted security agencies the technology to decrypt BlackBerry communications, citing national security concerns.
Although some experts have opined that RIM’s decision to only allow access to its data when ordered to do so by a judge might be problematic in certain countries where the judiciary is less than impartial, the company said that it maintains a “consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries”.
“Although RIM cannot disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government, RIM assures its customers that it genuinely tries to be as cooperative as possible with governments in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements, while also preserving the lawful needs of citizens and corporations,” RIM said.
Any technical capabilities that RIM would give to a carrier that would allow for the legal monitoring of BlackBerry messages would have to be “technology and vendor neutral,” the company said, an indication that RIM is not willing to allow foreign governments to access data sent using BlackBerrys that security agencies in those countries wouldn’t already be able to monitor if it were sent from smartphones made by competing manufacturers.
India’s ultimatum was issued hours after senior officials from government, intelligence and state-run telecom operators met to discuss how to gain access to BlackBerry content.
“If a technical solution is not provided by 31 August 2010, the government will review the position and take steps to block these two services from the network,” a government spokesperson had said.
India wants access in a readable format to encrypted BlackBerry communication, on grounds it could be used by militants.
There are an estimated one million BlackBerry subscribers in the country.