India issues ultimatum on BlackBerry services

Officials, fearing terrorism, want to monitor messages, e-mail

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India will ban BlackBerry’s e-mail and messenger services unless the cell phone’s manufacturer, Research in Motion (RIM), allows the government to monitor the messages by Aug. 31.

The government of India is worried that the hand-held device could be used by terrorists plotting an attack in the country.

Data from the BlackBerry is sent to servers in Canada, where the encryption technology makes the content of messages inaccessible to outsiders.

Indian Home Secretary G.K. Pillai on Thursday instructed India’s Telecom Department to inform cell phone service providers that two BlackBerry services — BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) and BlackBerry Messenger Service (BMS) — be made accessible to law enforcement agencies by Aug. 31.

“If a technical solution is not provided by [Aug. 31], the government will review the position and take steps to block these two services from the network,” India’s Home Ministry said in a statement.

India is among a growing list of countries to express security concerns over the use of the BlackBerry.

In a statement provided to The Washington Times, RIM said it had spent “over a decade building a very strong security architecture to meet our enterprise customers’ strict security requirements around the world.”

“It is a solution that we are very proud of,” the company said.

It said this solution was “designed to preclude RIM, or any third party, from reading encrypted information under any circumstances since RIM does not store or have access to the encrypted data.

“RIM cannot accommodate any request for a copy of a customer’s encryption key, since at no time does RIM, or any wireless network operator or any third party, ever possess a copy of the key.”

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.


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