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India to ban BlackBerry Messenger from end of August

Gov't will go after any company to ensure mobile network is safe

India has threatened to block BlackBerry Messenger and email services on August 31 unless Research in Motion (RIM) allows the country's authorities to access data sent using the these services.

India's announcement follows plans by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to block the services due to the way they are encrypted, which means the authorities in the two countries are unable to monitor and trace the communications. However, this week the Saudi Arabian authorities backtracked after RIM met a number of requirements, which were not disclosed.

RIM is still in discussions with the UAE about halting the suspension of services, which was due to start on October 11.

India, which already has access to telephone calls and text messages, wants RIM to locate a server in the country as well as providing easy access to emails and data sent via BlackBerry Messenger in the country to so India's authorities can monitor any potential security threats. The country's Home Ministry said if RIM can not offer a solution to its issues, then the services will be banned in the country.

"Although RIM cannot disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government, RIM assures its customers that it genuinely tries to be as co-operative as possible with governments in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements, while also preserving the lawful needs of citizens and corporations," the BlackBerry manufacturer said.

The company said insists any mobile networks that offer its service ensure four principles are adhered too. These include abiding by a country's laws on access to data and national security requirements, as well as being be "technology and vendor neutral" and not offering services which have been banned on other networks.

"There are no changes to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers since, contrary to any rumours, the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys," RIM added.

"Strong encryption is a fundamental commercial requirement for any country to attract and maintain international business anyway and similarly strong encryption is currently used pervasively in traditional VPNs on both wired and wireless networks in order to protect corporate and government communications. RIM maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries."

Peter Van Loan, Canada's international trade minister, said the Canadian government has been working with government officials in India "to help RIM identify their concerns and find solutions".

According to Reuters, the Indian government said it will go after any company, including Google in its quest to keep the world's fastest growing mobile phone market safe from militants and cyber spying.

"Wherever there is a concern on grounds of national security the government will want access and every country has a right to lawful interference," a senior interior security official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

See also: Flash for BlackBerry still a work in progress


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