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Indian gov denied BlackBerry snoop

Subcontinental spooks blackballed by RIM

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Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian company behind the BlackBerry handheld, has refused to give the Indian government special access to its encrypted email services. Indian authorities have previously evinced concern that terrorists or criminals might use BlackBerries to communicate free from government interception.

According to the Times of India, the company said in a statement:

The BlackBerry security architecture for enterprise customers is purposefully designed to exclude the capability for RIM or any third party to read encrypted information under any circumstances. We regret any concern prompted by incorrect speculation or rumours and wish to assure customers that RIM is committed to continue serving security-conscious business in the Indian market.

Previous reports have suggested that the Indian government had sought only the ability to read information sent between consumer BlackBerry users, rather than enterprise platforms. There had been media talk of a "master key" to be given to Indian officials.

Regarding the assertion that third parties are completely unable to read BlackBerry messages, this contradicts the view taken by the French government. France recently banned the use of BlackBerries by its top officials. French security types had apparently noted that BlackBerry's secure traffic passed through servers in Britain and the US, and felt that there was at least some chance of interception by the likes of GCHQ and the NSA.

India currently has a little over 100,000 BlackBerry users. The security/intercept issue became public when Tata teleservices was asked to delay its BlackBerry launch date until the Indian Department of Telecoms had intercept methods in place. ®

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