RIM proposes India cryptography forum

The BlackBerry manufacturer, which faces service suspension in India over a cryptography impasse, has suggested it could lead a forum to discuss law enforcement and government concerns
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

Blackberry maker Research In Motion has proposed an industry forum to discuss cryptography issues with the Indian government.

The proposal comes before an 31 August deadline that the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has imposed on Research In Motion (RIM) to hand over encryption keys to police and intelligence agencies or face a suspension of BlackBerry services in the country. RIM has repeatedly stated that it does not have access to customer encryption keys.

On Thursday, RIM suggested that it could lead an industry forum to support law enforcement access to communications, while preserving corporate information security needs. The forum would focus on developing policy recommendations aimed at preventing the misuse of encryption, RIM said in a statement.

"Finding the right balance to address both regulatory and commercial needs in this matter is an ongoing process and RIM has assured the government of India of its continued support and respect for India's legal and national security requirements," RIM said in the statement.

RIM added that it wished to address a number of "misperceptions" about its services. It said that it did not have access to customer encryption keys. Placing BlackBerry servers within India or any other country would not aid government access to encrypted data, RIM said, while noting that it had not offered any greater degree of access to communications to any particular country.

An Indian government minister on Friday said that the country was trying to find a way for RIM to continue operating BlackBerry services in India.

"The discussions are ongoing; we are not in the business of shutting down services," junior information technology minister Sachin Pilot told reporters at an industry conference, the Wall Street Journal reported.

RIM has had encryption discussions in a number of countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Lebanon. RIM had not responded to a request for comment on the status of these discussions at the time of writing. In the UK, police can compel organisations to hand over encryption keys.

Editorial standards