Indian operators have until Dec. 31 to enable BlackBerry monitoring

India's telecom department gives the deadline to local mobile operators to enable monitoring and government interception of BlackBerry services, or face the possibility of having these services shut.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

India's telecom department (DoT) has demanded mobile operators enable the monitoring of BlackBerry services and user traffic by Dec. 31 this year. Failure to do so will result in these services being shut down.

BlackBerry maker, Research In Motion (RIM) had set up a local server in Mumbai since last February to allow Indian security agencies to monitor data flow between its BlackBerry Internet browsing and Messenger services. However, several local mobile operators had fallen behind schedule to connect to this system and test lawful interception capabilities, prompting the DoT to set the December deadline, the Hindu Business Line reported Wednesday.

It cited an internal DoT memo which said: "The BlackBerry Interception Solution shall be deployed and offered for testing to the respective Telecom Enforcement, Resource, and Monitoring Cells [which is the monitoring wing of the DoT] on or before Dec. 31, in such a manner that the services can be intercepted in a readable format.

"Failing the successful demonstration, the BlackBerry services shall be restrained to be offered to subscribers from Jan. 1, 2013."

The stipulated deadline is the latest turn of events, which have been ongoing for over two years, regarding the Indian government's move to have the ability to intercept BlackBerry services, the report noted.

The government in August 2010 threatened to block RIM's BlackBerry services if it was not provided unencrypted access to Indian customers' e-mail and instant messaging.

Besides BlackBerry Internet Service and BlackBerry Messenger, the Canadian smartphone maker also offers an e-mail client BlackBerry Enterprise Service, but it said it was unable to provide a technical solution for this service to be monitored. As a workaround, Indian security agencies would have to track all individual servers set up by corporations using this service.

To enable this, the DoT told operators to state the details of the server identity linked to each BlackBerry device on customer acquisition forms at the time of activating the connection, the report said. This would allow security agencies to directly access the specific server servicing a particular subscriber.

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