BlackBerry gives in to govt pressure, to provide access

BlackBerry gives in to govt pressure, to provide access

New Delhi: Research In Motion Ltd (RIM) has agreed to provide access to its BlackBerry messenger service to India’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies from 1 September to ease the government’s security concerns.

The home ministry had given the Canadian firm a 31 August deadline to provide access to all its services, including the messenger service and the BlackBerry enterprise server used for emails and messages.

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“They have agreed to give us access to BlackBerry messenger service. Initially the intelligence agencies will be given manual access," a senior government official said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The official added that RIM representatives will meet a technical team from the home ministry on Tuesday to sort out concerns about the firm’s enterprise server. “RIM has proposed some technical solutions, which will be analyzed in the meeting. The report would then be submitted to home ministry for consideration."

RIM has already given access to its telephone, SMS and Internet services. Earlier this month, the company said it will need six to eight months to develop a solution that would enable security and intelligence agencies to spy on communication over the BlackBerry Messenger.

The home ministry, RIM and telecom service providers have been in talks for more than a month after the government said terrorists may rely on encrypted communication through BlackBerry devices, which Indian agencies failed to read.

“They have told us that before the BlackBerry device sends a message, it compresses and encrypts the message using the device transport key. When the enterprise server receives the message from the BlackBerry device, the message is decrypted using the device transport key and then decompressed. We have asked for this device transport key," said a telecommunication official, asking not to be named.

Robert E. Crow, RIM’s vicepresident for industry, government and university relations, had met home secretary G.K. Pillai last week.