RIM security access appeases Indian authorities

The company has provided Indian authorities with access to customers' email and instant messaging in a bid to stop them being blocked, although BlackBerry Enterprise Server services will remain encrypted
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

BlackBerry smartphone manufacturer Research In Motion has provided the government of India with access to data sent using its BlackBerry Messenger and BlackBerry Internet Service email in a bid to avoid the services being blocked in the country.

RIM BlackBerry India

RIM has struck a deal with the Indian government to provide access to data sent using its BlackBerry Messenger and internet service. Photo credit: RIM.

Research In Motion (RIM) announced on Thursday that it had reached an agreement with the Indian authorities to provide access to consumer email and messenger services but reasserted that it has not granted access to services using its BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which it classes as "essentially a VPN".

"We are pleased to have delivered a solution well before a mutually agreed milestone date of 31 January, 2011," the company said in a statement. "We also wish to underscore, once again, that this enablement of lawful access does not extend to BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES)."

RIM's BES service has been extensively marketed as having strong security and encryption, which makes it difficult for authorities to easily intercept communications. The company was told to provide access to law enforcement agencies in India — as well as other countries such as Lebanon, Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia — or risk having some or all of its services blocked.

However, RIM has repeatedly stated that it does not have encryption keys for services that use the BES.

"It is important to note that strong encryption is used widely in India to protect sensitive corporate and government information and that other VPN solutions are used widely for both wired and wireless applications," RIM said. "Encryption technology is arguably essential to the continuing advancement of India's economy."

India has threatened similar bans on other large corporations operating within the country. On 1 September, authorities demanded that Skype and Google allow monitoring of customers' data or face being banned from operating in the country.

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