RIM Faces New India Shutdown Threat

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India says it isn’t satisfied with RIM’s failure to provide access to encrypted BlackBerry messages

Research In Motion (RIM) is reportedly facing the renewed threat of being shut down in the Indian market after the Indian government said it is unsatisfied with RIM’s inability to provide investigators access to BlackBerry-based corporate messaging services.

In a statement to the Indian parliament on Wednesday, Junior Telecoms Minister Sachin Pilot said the government would continue to pressure RIM on getting access to corporate messages, according to Reuters.

Consumer messaging

RIM has already set up a system that gives Indian authorities access to consumer messaging services, but has repeatedly said that it does not have the ability to provide access to encrypted corporate services.

It has also refused to change the architecture of its service to provide a way for governments to access enterprise messages in any of the 175 countries where its services are available.

RIM responded that Pilot’s statement “may have been inadvertently prepared using outdated information”, and said its plans were adequate and more complete than those offered by rivals such as Nokia, Reuters reported.

Reports in the Indian business press, citing unnamed sources within the government, said RIM has been given a deadline of 31 March to provide access to corporate messaging, but the government has made no public statement to this effect.

RIM has criticised India’s demands, calling them unrealistic and saying they reflect poorly on India.

Robert Crow, vice president of industry and government relations for RIM, told the Wall Street Journal India’s Home Ministry is looking for the ability to intercept in real time any communication on any Indian network and to translate the results into plain text.

RIM slams India

The Indian government has said it is looking for ways of countering terrorism, but Crow suggested India should get more in line with the expectations of other countries.

“This claim is made in an environment where we don’t really have any privacy- or data-protection laws — and where we have a pretty poor administrative record of keeping similar things like wiretaps secret,” Crow told the Journal. “I think this may well go on and on in India, and frankly it will be one of those factors that people talk about in the Indian business environment — not one that will be seen in India’s favour in international comparison.”

RIM resolved a previous deadline in India of 31 January by providing Indian telecom operators with a system that lets them unscramble consumer BlackBerry messages when a court order has been provided, RIM said.

“RIM has now delivered a solution that enables India’s wireless carriers to address their lawful access requirements for our consumer messaging services, which include BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) email,” RIM told eWEEK Europe UK in January.

Nokia said on Monday it has set up servers in India and is testing systems that will give the government access to consumer messages, expecting the testing to be completed in the next three months.

Access doesn’t extend to corporate messaging services, Nokia said.

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