RIM Wants Two Years Grace On Indian Access

Research In Motion sees the Indian demands to access its email network as a threat to its business model

Research In Motion (RIM) has asked for 18-24 months to find a solution to its deadlock with the Indian authorities.

As it stands at the moment, RIM has until the end of this month to find a way to allow the Indian government access to its BlackBerry corporate email services. Failure to do so would mean that a ban would be placed on RIMs phone services in India.

According to press reports, the company met with Indian officials on 29 December to discuss the issues involved but, as yet, no response has been reported from the Indian side, though it has moved the deadline several times since the issue was raised last August.

RIM refutes rumours of concessions

In an effort to appease the government, RIM had offered access to the scrambled BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service but it is fiercely guarding against similar concessions for the encrypted BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) email service. India has said that BBM-only access is not acceptable.

In a statement the Canadian company said, “RIM reaffirms that any suggestion that it is enabling, or planning to enable in any time frame, access to data transmitted through BlackBerry Enterprise Server is both false and technologically infeasible.”

The architecture of the BES network is said to be so secure that even RIM has no access to what has been transmitted. This is the main reason that companies have embraced the system as a secure business system. If the Indian authorities were allowed access, the whole system would be compromised and this would lay waste to the BlackBerry promise of a watertight system.

On the other side of the table, the Indian government sees BES as a threat to its security because it could be used by terrorists. It has already claimed that BlackBerrys were used in the storming of the Mumbai Taj Hotel in 2008 where 166 people were killed. India blames the Pakistan-based terror group Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) for the attack and fears similar atrocities may follow.

The BES arguments are being watched by many of the cloud companies that offer secure messaging services. Concessions to the Indian government could result in other governments asking for similar rights of access and the whole confidentiality issue would  then be called into question.