DoT testing BlackBerry solution to intercept services

DoT testing BlackBerry solution to intercept services

New Delhi: An end is in sight to the stand-off between security agencies and Research In Motion, as the Canada-based manufacturer of Blackberry smartphones has come up with a solution for real-time interception of its services, which is being tested in the Department of Telecom.

After seeking an extension of deadlines for nearly a year, RIM finally came up with a plan for real-time interception of its BlackBerry Messenger and BlackBerry Enterprise services. The solution is being tested by the DoT and sleuths from various security agencies have also been asked to give their opinion on the solution, official sources said.

The government had set 15 August as the deadline for Canada’s Research In Motion (RIM) to provide the country’s security agencies with interception keys to enable real-time tracking of its popular BlackBerry messenger and corporate email services in readable format.

If the solution provided by RIM withstands scrutiny, the government plans to ask other smartphone-makers to come up with a similar solution. Besides RIM, Nokia is another manufacturer that provides a push mail facility to its subscribers.

According to the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the licencing terms and conditions for telecom service providers, companies are required to provide a lawful interception and monitoring solution for any service they provide.

The government has extended the deadline several times to get a solution from RIM.

It is estimated there are about one million BlackBerry subscribers in India.

RIM uses powerful encryption to encode email messages as they travel between BlackBerry devices and a computer -- the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) -- designed to secure emails. RIM had earlier insisted that the company does not possess any master key to decode the messages, as it is randomly generated on customers’ Blackberry smartphones.

Security agencies had expressed concerns over the encrypted data being sent using BlackBerry mobile phones and have been asking for a decryption solution for its corporate mails and messenger services.

Based on the perceived security threat, the DoT had instructed all telecom service providers to ensure that a technical solution for interception and monitoring of BlackBerry services in readable format is made available to law enforcement agencies, failing which the services would have to be stopped.