Address security concerns or shut shop: Govt tells BlackBerry

The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Department of Telecommunication to tell the Canadian service provider in no uncertain terms that its email and other data services must comply with formats that can be monitored by security and intelligence agencies.

The MHA made it clear that RIM has been addressing security concerns of several other countries, including the United States, where it operates and therefore, there is no justification to not comply the same in India.

"If they don't follow our guidelines, we will have no option but to ask them to stop their operations in India," an official said.

The smartphone is used by nearly a million customers in India.Government also wants a blackberry server in India but the company has been delaying the move. Once the server is in India, it will be easy to track the messages.

BlackBerry says the messages are encrypted. The smartphone's server is based in Canada where the encryption level is very high and extremely difficult to crack. And any message going through a Canada server is encrypted and therefore cannot be accessed by intelligence agencies in India.

There are reports that China has got a similar server in the country.Senior officials of key security agencies in a recent meeting argued that the continuation of BlackBerry services in the present format presents a danger to the country. The meeting was attended by representatives of the MHA, DoT, intelligence agencies and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO).

The latest development indicates that security agencies are again finding it difficult to intercept or decipher messages sent through these phones, which use codes with an encryption of 256 bits.

This encryption code first scrambles the emails sent from a BlackBerry device and unscrambles it when the message reaches its target.

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