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Nokia complies in India; BlackBerry cannot: March 31 is deadline day

Though the BlackBerry manufacturer and Nokia have given away the encryption keys to some of its email and messenger services, Research in Motion is poised for a full pullout of India.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

A deadline of March 31st has been given to the BlackBerry manufacturer, Research in Motion, to hand over encryption keys which would allow the Indian government to intercept corporate emails and other data used on the secure handsets.

A senior official at Research in Motion said that India's home ministry, which oversees national security, requires the ability to access real-time interceptions of any mobile communication in plain text, including that of the BlackBerry corporate, secure servers.

The corporate BlackBerry system works in such a secure manner, that even the BlackBerry manufacturer cannot intercept messages on its systems, leading to Research in Motion being unable to offer what the Indian government wants.

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However, Research in Motion have given up the encryption keys to its instant messenger program, BlackBerry Messenger, and its consumer email service, BlackBerry Internet Service, but this is only a small fish in a big encrypted sea.

Other companies including Nokia, Cisco and Skype have also asked to become compliant with the rules of India's government. But only Nokia so far has sold out, allowing it to keep its presence in the country, by giving up rights of privacy to its ordinary citizens using consumer emails.

However, a Nokia managing director said that what the government was asking for "is completely right", in regards to interception. Yet the deal only seems to cover consumer emails, and not corporate accounts.

Testing to ensure Nokia's systems are compliant with the national security request is expected to be completed in three months, according to the Wall Street Journal.

If the BlackBerry manufacturer gives up its unique selling point, the users will drop rapidly, and will be at threat throughout other precipitating countries which decides it 'requires' it needs this function. Alternatively, Research in Motion can pull out of a market with over a billion people and 700 million cell subscribers, which will surely hit its projected outputs for the year.

Or, India will realise what a significant presence BlackBerry technology has in the country, and bail on its request entirely. Either way, it seems that March 31st is the deadline day, and we will find out more.

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