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

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.

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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

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38 comments
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  • Remember the Mumbai terror attacks?

    Remember Mumbai? Where terrorists shot anyone who moved? EVERYONE of those terrorists had a Blackberry to communicate with and without those Blackberry's they would not have been able to kill anyone!

    Oh wait, that should be 'NONE' of the them Blackberrys, and the lack of communications has never stopped any terrorist ever.

    Terrorism is the excuse here, as it so often is. If RIM found a way to grab corporate email keys, they would expose their corporate emails to Indian inspection. That's a major benefit to India.

    Imagine being able to know commercial secrets of any company with an Indian subsidiary. It would be like, having access to the private bank transfer details of Europe... an incredible wealth of commercially sensitive information. Only a complete idiot, or a traitor would hand over sensitive information like that to a foreign power like India.

    So RIM would be better off worldwide if they simply rejected India's demand. It would compromise their sales worldwide and they can capitalize on Nokia and Apple being so insecure they can be sold in India, whereas RIM cannot because they are too secure.

    "RIM.... too secure to be sold in India"
    guihombre
    • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

      @guihombre
      Wise advice to RIM to quit the fastest growing cellphone market in the world, which already has 800 million subscribers & poised to hit a billion by 2012.
      mm71
      • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

        @mm71 He's right, big market are not if you cannot protect your clients than no one will use you. And India's corruption is well known.
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

        @mm71 RIM would lose much more than the Indian market if it gave the Indian government what they wanted, assuming they even could.
        JRonin
      • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

        BlackBerry maker Research in Motion could be banned from India along with Skype and Google,<a href="http://www.dissertationindia.com/spss_help.html">SPSS Help</a> for failing to provide encryption keys to India's intelligence services.
        Amanda123456
    • I remember

      @guihombre <br><br>I completely agree. I've read about the corruption in India. A friend of a friend who wants to help company X know what company Y is doing could easily justify scanning company Y communications for possible terrorist threats.<br><br>As you said, RIM should use it for a marketing campaign, as proof that businesses can count on Blackberry for secure communications.<br><br>Some free markets are less free than others.
      Bit-Smacker
  • Guess India wants to return to being irrelevent

    Security is security. If the bad guys can't read it neither can the "good guys" (who are actually bad guys).

    Guess they'll have to come up with another approach...
    wolf_z
  • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

    Believe it or not, encryption existed before the Blackberry, computers, or even electronics. If somebody wants to conceal the content of a message they can do it by well-known means that the Indian big brother has no means of reading. Police states (and I include the US in this) want to know what the people are doing and it isn't because of a desire to keep the people safe.
    zdnet@...
    • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

      @zdnet@...

      Yes encryption existed, but there has been a "sea change" in cryptography thanks specifically to the invention and publication of "public key" cryptography. But this in turn requires computers to be practical.
      mejohnsn
      • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

        @mejohnsn

        Yes, and NOBODY has a computer.
        niells@...
  • Imagine the outcry if Libya were asking for the keys...

    and realize that India is little better.

    As far as I am concerned, considering the risks of corporate espionage and criminal malfeasance by rogue states, the security of my data and the safety of my people is paramount. If RIM gives in to India (or anyone else for that matter) then it demonstrates that they are *not* secure and thus places them lower down on the purchasing list than their competitors... perhaps off of it entirely.

    Regards,
    Jon
    JonathonDoe
    • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

      @JonathonDoe

      Ah, but you see, that is why the Indian government is doing the same thing to RIM's competitors, too.
      mejohnsn
  • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

    Giving any government one's keys is lunacy. Giving a corporation your private keys is lunacy. If terrorists are the problem, find them and kill them. We know where they are ... we just lack the political will to execute the operations.
    rhoefelmeyer
  • PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN!

    This would be a great way to curb offshoring and outsourcing of US jobs...
    Hasam1991
    • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

      @Hasam1991 I was thinking the same thing, though I doubt it.
      ItsTheBottomLine
  • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

    Nothing is secure in India and all government officials are on the take, so forget about maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of any data the government receives access. Geez, I can take you to the holes in the fences surrounding around their nuclear facility where people walk through daily to graze their goats. I lived there for almost four years and can tell you India has some great people, but the country itself is a trainwreck and will never lead the world in anything... well, anything good.
    ogopogo3
  • Governmenerts all over the world (including our own) ...

    ... are quite happy to deny personal freedoms in the name of "security" and most (including our own) will eventually use that excuse to restrict free speech when it comes to any political discourse those leaders don't like.

    The Patriot Act was just the first volley in this battle to retain personal freedoms in the USA.
    M Wagner
    • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

      @mwagner@... "to RETAIN personal freedoms"?!?!
      Did you perhaps mean REMOVE or ELIMINATE personal freedoms?
      tkeller@...
  • Energy Security

    Energy security in USA will eliminate all these problems<br>Zero oil import.
    hillol
    • RE: India poised to ban BlackBerrys: Skype, Google could be next

      @hillol

      That is quite a pipe dream. Even if we opened up all the coastlines and wilderness reserves to drilling, we would have nowhere near enough oil to make a dent in oil imports. And our alternative sources are still way too far underdeveloped -- thanks to misadventures like growing corn (maize) for ethanol.
      mejohnsn