RIM vs. Indian government continues

RIM vs. Indian government continues

Summary: The Indian government has issued another warning to RIM that its BlackBerry operations in India will be suspended unless it respects Indian security policies.

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The Indian government has issued another warning to RIM that its BlackBerry operations in India will be suspended unless it respects Indian laws and adheres to security policies as defined by the government.

The Ministry of Home Affairs wants Research in Motion to allow security forces access to encrypted content that flows in and out of India through their devices. Blackberry services are offered by all leading Indian telecom operators and have a wide user base.

Back in 2008, RIM was issued a similar warning but the matter seemed to have subsided after RIM agreeing in principle that they will allow the government to monitor Blackberry networks. UAE raised similar concerns against Blackberry a few days ago which has renewed the Indian government’s interest in the matter. RIM has servers located in Canada and the encrypted data is sent there. Since the data is encrypted and sent abroad, gaining access to it is practically difficult. Governments of India and UAE believe that this poses a security threat since anti-social elements can use these devices to plan and co-ordinate their activities without the local security forces being able to intercept their communication in time.

The Indian government is quite clear in their warnings, they want RIM to allow security forces access to data sent using Blackberry devices by reducing encryption or providing necessary decryption keys. Speaking on the issue a high-ranking official said, “We will ban BlackBerry services if they refuse to give government details of data shared by users. They have so far denied data on the excuse of encryption. There should not be any problem in sharing the data. If they can provide this to US intelligence agencies, we do not see any reason that they cannot provide the same to Indian agencies.”

RIM on their part has once again said that they will cooperate with the government. The Department of Telecommunication has been directed to interact with RIM and find a solution to the problem. Reuters meanwhile is reporting that there are no plans to ban RIM’s Blackberry services in India.

Topics: Security, Government, Government US, Hardware, Mobility, BlackBerry

Manan Kakkar

About Manan Kakkar

Telecommunication engineer with a keen interest in end-user technology and a News junkie, I share my thoughts while preparing for my Master's in Information Management.

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12 comments
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  • So basically...

    ...India and the UAE want to spy on anyone they please--which could very well include government sponsered industrial espionage.

    Of course RIM has little choice. And yes, the US already has the ability to do this--but then again our officials tend to be a lot more expensive to bribe...
    wolf_z
    • RE: RIM vs the Indian Government continues

      @wolf_z Wow - where did bribery come into this. You are incredibly stupid.
      abc123a
      • RE: RIM vs the Indian Government continues

        @abc123a - how did wof_z's intelligence come into this? His reference is to the generally accepted public view of 3rd world politicians being relatively easy to bribe or otherwise manipulate, and I see no problem with an expression of "conventional wisdom" even if it's not entirely accurate in all cases. But what he was saying is that while our own American government has access to our theoretically private communications because of the anti-4th-amendment precedent set by Bush, our own gubmint spies on us for perfectly valid reasons whereas 3rd world gubmints may be using such legal shenanigans to spy on us (note that the article did not state that the access only applied to Indian citizens) for more nefarious reasons. *cough* corporate espianage *cough* :-D
        Gravyboat McGee
    • More expensive to bribe...

      @wolf_z
      ... are you sure about that? Do you have any hard figures to back up how easy or hard, cheap or expensive it is to bribe an American "official"? And what level of "official" are we talking?

      At first, I smiled at your comment, thinking as most westerners do that the "3rd world" (of which India is part in and part out of due to it's peculiar makeup) is more corrupt than the 1st world (if that's the correct term) countries. Then the smile disappeared as I pondered the rampant corruption of graft, back-handers and political manoeuvrings that we all see in "the west" day in and day out, and I realised that "1st world" countries are every bit as corrupt as the "3rd world" - ours just has a thin veneer of "respectability" (!) over it, whereas elsewhere people tend to accept it for what it is and not cover it.

      So while it's comfortable for us to point the finger at India, China, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Somalia (I won't go thru the list - it's very long...) et al for being "corrupt", we should remember a very wise saying: "People who live in glass houses should not throw rocks at others"...
      naibeeru
    • more expensive to bribe...

      @wolf_z
      Please don't judge others by your own standards - they may not apply.
      Agnostic_OS
  • RE: RIM vs the Indian Government continues

    When will the Indian government start taking the threat of terrorism seriously? What will take - a nuclear explosion before they do something? The train blasts and the attack on Mumbai evidently were not enough. RIM should be banned until they comply.
    abc123a
  • RE: RIM vs the Indian Government continues

    Even if successful, it will only catch terrorists that don't read the news. The rest will migrate to Skype/PTT/Burners for voice and PGP/TOR for data. Remember when newspapers started reporting on intercepted sat phone calls between al Qaeda leadership- they stopped using them.

    With terrorists then shunning non-secure communications (like Blackberry), then the only remaining national interest would be corporate espionage (not saying this is exclusive to India or the UAE, I'm guessing the US does far more than any other country, with China close behind).
    Gritztastic
  • lazy national security strategies

    No one wants all their communication to be constantly filtered through government hands; national security is not worth that much to me. And I trust the US government no more than the Indian government or the Russian government, for that matter.
    xambassador
  • RE: RIM vs the Indian Government continues

    abc123a asks where bribery comes into this: the answer is rather simple. Somebody tracking your messages is OK, if you can trust them to be neutral and use it only to detect crimes. Myself, I would not trust the FBI on this (look at J Edgar Hoover's vendettas), but whom to trust is your choice. However, if they can be bribed, you need also to trust the people who bribe them -- such as your commercial competitors.
    tim.poston
    • RE: RIM vs the Indian Government continues

      @tim.poston@... anybody that trusts the FBI in this day and age is a desperately lost soul ... either through ignorance or for more nefarious causes. The FBI is currently working for the American Gubmint only part time ... the rest of the time they are clearly For Hire to rich business that want to use the force of the government to 'protect' business secrets (google Apple iPhone 4 and FBI).
      Gravyboat McGee
  • RE: RIM vs the Indian Government continues

    Gubmints are what they are . Most net traffic is already being filtered and terrorist commmunication has been intercepted. Crackberry is just one more channel, so what how much difference will this make to your digital privacy -- You have no digital privacy as of now any way. Those who need privacy will find ways (encryptmail.org, anonymous emaililers , privately encripted phones etc) so what is the Hoo Ha about>
    sksinghkgn1
  • RE: RIM vs the Indian Government continues

    I think this is very peculiar considering it is President Obama first choice in mobile devices.
    Agnostic_OS