India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

Summary:BlackBerry maker Research in Motion could be banned from India along with Skype and Google, for failing to provide encryption keys to India's intelligence services.

India's government has reiterated to BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion, and other companies providing encryption in their products, that they will have to be open to internal security and intelligence services if they wish to continue operating in the region.

Under this premise, Google and Skype could also be forced to shut down in the country if it cannot provide keys to its services.

Research in Motion has already given provision to the Indian security and intelligence agencies to intercept BlackBerry Messenger, used by many in oppressive regimes to avoid detection by state authorities by younger users in particular, under the premise of preventing future terrorist attacks in the country.

But the BlackBerry manufacturer stresses that it cannot give away encryption keys to corporate email services, because the company simply does not have access to them to give them away, and are instead held by the customer who bought the technology.

To explain the difficulty of allowing a government to access Skype's communications, one of the worlds leading intelligence organisations, the US National Security Agency, is still offering 'billions' for a solution to their eavesdropping needs on the peer-to-peer voice network.

As I've said in a previous post:

India faces a multitude of terror threats, just as many fast-developing economies and countries around the world. The increased use in technology to better communications in order to orchestrate acts of terror are clearly being used as the rest of ordinary society does.

India's intelligence services need to be able to access encrypted data to prevent attacks in a 'constant setting': where attacks are likely and have occurred regularly. The ability for governments to intercept or read data sent to and from their citizens is common place in Western societies.

While this diplomatic saga continues, other mobile manufacturers have capitalised upon Research in Motion's predicament, while the company has named other companies like Apple, Nokia, Microsoft and Cisco as incorporating similar encryption technologies into their devices.

It is looking likely that in the coming months, the BlackBerry maker could be forced to pull out of the country altogether, with similar hardware and software technology providers following suit.

Related content:

Topics: BlackBerry, Hardware, Mobility

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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