Give access or face ban: Centre tells BlackBerry

Govt sets Aug 31 deadline

Give access or face ban: Centre tells BlackBerry

Home Ministry officials met with the makers of the BlackBerry - Research In Motion (RIM) – to address fears that the handsets could be used for terror strikes like the Mumbai 26/11 attack. RIM is a Canada-based company.

RIM was given time until the end of August to address the security issues before the ministry  imposes the countrywide ban. BlackBerry, according to one estimate, has nearly one million subscribers in the country.

In a letter to the Department of Telecom Secretary P J Thomas, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai has asked him to convey to the operators and the RIM that a technical solution to make available lawful interception of BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) and BlackBerry Messenger Services (BBM) by August 31 or its services will be blocked.

Pillai held a meeting in which representatives of security agencies, Telecom Department and top brass of state-owned BSNL and MTNL were present.

India is not the only country to have threatened RIM with a ban. Last week, RIM reportedly  met with Saudi officials and agreed to allow the Saudi government to monitor users’ messages.

The United Arab Emirates has announced that it will ban BlackBerry email, messaging and web browsing from October, and Indonesia is also seeking greater control over the data. BlackBerry phones have been recovered from terrorists. With a BlackBerry, a user can have encrypted communication with another.

The Home Ministry is particularly concerned over it’s use (misuse) in the troubled Kashmir Valley where verification of pre-paid and post-paid mobile subscribers is already posing a headache for the government. Details of the subscribers in the Kashmir Valley have not been verified by the service providers according to “the new format”, according to the ministry.

The SMS services in the valley have been suspended on account of fear of separatists’ propaganda and those engaged in spreading rumours.

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