Suspension of BlackBerry service may not give solution: Canada tells India

Suspension of BlackBerry service may not give solution: Canada tells India

The government has imposed a deadline of August 31 asking BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) to either provide a solution for monitoring encrypted data or shut shop.

Sources in-the-know of the development that relates to security concerns that prompted the Ministry of Home Affairs to take a hard line, said the Canadian government has sent a communication to India.

However, no confirmation could be obtained from the Canada High Commission, whose government has said in a communication that "it is not productive to impose deadlines in such matters."

There are over 900 corporate houses and companies and about a million subscribers who are using BlackBerry services and if the services were suspended, the question would be to know its impact on these users.

India has security concerns and these are legitimate and it has all rights to look for solution, but suspension of services is not the one, feels Canada, sources said.

If services are suspended they (the corporates and industry) will have to shift to some other platform which may involve additional cost and also security concerns have been expressed about other services as well.

Going after RIM will not only not resolve the security issue, but will create numerous economic and logistical hardships for many top companies in India. In addition, it could have a significantly negative impact on the very important IT and BPO industries.

This is not BlackBerry-specific issue, sources said, adding the government must address it at the industry-level, especially when it comes to encryption technology. And issues are being raised about other ISPs like Google, Skype and Gmail.

Leading mobile operator Vodafone has already sent an advisory to its subscribers saying they should be ready for disruption of some of services after August 31 as per the direction of the Telecom Ministry.

The government has held several rounds of meetings with the operators, who are also Internet Service Providers (ISPs), RIM officials and security agencies, but still no solution has emerged to everyone's satisfaction.

Canadian government is in touch with the company (RIM) on the issue and has been working with Indian government officials to help RIM identify concerns and find solutions, sources said.

Maintaining that it has a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements and does not have special deals for specific countries, RIM had recently said in a statement that the company does not have a "master key" to gain access to encrypted corporate information.

However, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has instructed all telecom service providers to ensure that a technical solution for interception and monitoring of BlackBerry services in readable format is made available to the law enforcing agencies by August 31, 2010.

RIM noted that it would be unable to accommodate any request for a copy of a customer's encryption key "since at no time does RIM, ever possess a copy of the key".
Pointing out that strong encryption in wireless technology is not unique to the BlackBerry platform, the statement said that such encryption is a fundamental commercial requirement for any country to attract and maintain international business.

"Singling out and banning one solution, such as the BlackBerry solution, would be ineffective and counter productive," the company said.

According to the statement, RIM is extending an offer to the government, to lead an industry forum focused on supporting lawful access needs of law enforcement agencies while preserving legitimate information security needs of corporations and other organisations in India.

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