BlackBerry optimistic of resolving security issue

BlackBerry optimistic of resolving security issue

Faced with the August 31 deadline to address the country's security concerns, a three-member delegation of (RIM) led by Vice-President Robert E Crowe met Home Secretary G K Pillai to discuss government's notice.

Government has set the August 31 deadline for the Canada-based RIM and telecom operators to address its security concerns warning that failure to do so would result in some of the mobile phone's popular services being shut down in the country.

Government wants RIM to make available lawful interception of BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) and BlackBerry Messenger Services (BBM) to Indian security agencies.

"I am optimistic," Crowe told reporters after a half-an- hour meeting with Pillai.

In a letter to to the Department of Telecom (DoT) Secretary P J Thomas, Pillai has asked him to convey to the operators and RIM that a technical solution to make available lawful interception of BES and BBM must be found out by the stated deadline.

There are an estimated one million BlackBerry subscribers in the country.

In Toronto, RIM in a statement on Thursday said it would allow Indian security agencies only to do legal monitoring of data of its subscribers, although India has asked the smartphone vendor to provide access to e-mail and messenger data.

"The only time it allows carriers to access the data sent via BlackBerry devices is in the case of national security situations, and even then, only as governed by the country's judicial oversight and rules of law," it said.

In Delhi, a Union Home Ministry spokesman said, "The meeting today asked DoT to convey to service providers and RIM that the BES and messanger services be made accessible to legal enforcement agencies (LEA) and a technical solution be found.
"If a technical solution is not found by August 31, government will review the position and take steps to block these two services. As of now, voicemail, SMS and BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS) have been made available to the LEA," the spokesman said.
Ahead of the meeting, a top official of RIM, which has a growing market, made a courtesy call on Home Minister P Chidambaram.

Last week, BlackBerry had made a fresh attempt to break the logjam over its services in India by offering "metadata" and relevant information to security agencies which would enable them to lawfully intercept communication on such phones but it failed to enthuse them.

RIM representatives explained that BlackBerry mobile device sends encrypted emails, which is sent to BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) located with the service provider.
BES decrypts messages and sends it to the email server of the service provider where it remains stored in decrypted form. Then it is pushed to the BlackBerry device in encrypted form.

The UAE had recently banned Blackberry services.

RIM said that it maintains a "consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries".

"Although RIM cannot disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government, RIM assures its customers that it genuinely tries to be as cooperative as possible with governments in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements, while also preserving the lawful needs of citizens and corporations," it said.

India wants access in a readable format to encrypted BlackBerry communication, on the ground that it could be used by militants.

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