New BlackBerry handset wrapped in security web

New BlackBerry handset wrapped in security web

New Delhi: Launch of a new touchscreen BlackBerry handset in India has been caught in a security web, although it is yet to be ascertained if the premium mobile service was used by terrorists to plan last week’s attacks on Mumbai.

Much before the Mumbai attacks, the Wireless Planning Coordination wing of the Communications Ministry had asked for clearance from the security wing for allowing the launch of the handset given the doubts about the service being a risk to internal security.

The concerns were aired ahead of the proposed visit of a top team of the BlackBerry promoters to India for discussions with the Department of Telecom (DoT) on the long pending security issues.

A source in the know of the development, however, said that it is yet to be ascertained if BlackBerry equipment was used by the militants in Mumbai. “It is understood that the BlackBerry equipment uses encrypted data for e-mail transmission through a gateway outside our country," the WPC wing of DoT said in an internal communication to the security wing.

The issue has arisen with respect to approval for a new device -- touchscreen BlackBerry Storm 9500 -- that the Canadian vendor of Blackberry RIM plans to launch in India. WPC has referred the approval of Bluetooth certification for the BlackBerry Storm to the full ministry for clearance citing questions over its legality.