Report: BlackBerry hands over PIN to Indian govt

Summary:Canadian phonemaker is reported to have handed over PIN details of BlackBerry handsets in India, but the government will need unique identification numbers of the phones to monitor messages between users in the country and abroad.

The Indian government reportedly has received the PIN details of BlackBerry handsets shipped to the country, and may ask for similar data of every BlackBerry handset worldwide to allow it to monitor messages between users in the country and abroad.

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Panel also recommends Indian government to ask for PIN details of BlackBerry users worldwide to track incoming and outgoing messages between users in India and those abroad.

Citing a Department of Telecommunications (DoT) report dated December 31, Times of India reported on Thursday that BlackBerry had given the Indian government the PIN details of all the BlackBerry handsets shipped to the country. However, the unique identification numbers of BlackBerry phones in other countries were excluded "due to privacy and legal provisions", it said.

Each BlackBerry handset comes with a unique PIN that cannot be changed and is tied to the phone. Users can use the PIN to add others into BlackBerry Messenger.

According to the Times of India, the DoT panel had recommended that the government also ask for the PIN details of BlackBerry users across the "entire world" to track incoming and outgoing messages between users in India and others abroad.

When queried at the BlackBerry Z10 launch in Singapore  on Thursday, Hastings Singh, the company's managing director for South Asia, said he was not able to comment on the specifics of the Indian report regarding PIN details. However, he said BlackBerry will "always be 100 percent compliant" with each market's law and regulations.

In an e-mail statement to ZDNet Asia Friday, a BlackBerry spokesperson said: "BlackBerry continues to enjoy excellent relations with the Indian government and our carriers, and we have worked closely with these partners to ensure ongoing lawful access compliance, consistent with our published Lawful Access Principles. It is not our company policy to comment on unconfirmed reports."

The Times of India report added that on December 10, BlackBerry had demonstrated interception facilities which it built to address India's security concerns. The panel also said India must take over monitoring facilities built by BlackBerry.

For the past years, the Canadian phonemaker has been pressured by the Indian government to enable the monitoring of communication between BlackBerry devices as its encryption was deemed "too secure". The company finally relented and built BlackBerry servers in Mumbai  in 2011.

Last November , the Indian government ordered local operators to enable the monitoring of BlackBerry services before December 31 or face having the services shut.

Topics: Security, BlackBerry, Government : Asia, India, Privacy, Smartphones

About

The only journalist in the team without a Western name, Yun Qing hails from the mountainy Malaysian state, Sabah. She currently covers the hardware and networking beats, as well as everything else that falls into her lap, at ZDNet Asia. Her RSS feed includes tech news sites and most of the Cheezburger network. She is also a cheapskate mas... Full Bio

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