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Indian gov: Let us into BlackBerry or we'll shut you down

RIM reluctant to offer up backdoor

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The Indian government has tightened the screw on Canadian push-email pioneer Research In Motion (RIM) in the ongoing dispute over official interception of BlackBerry email. Reports now indicate that if RIM won't open up its encypted messaging to Indian spooks, it won't be permitted to do business in the subcontinent.

According to India's Economic Times, a meeting was held last Thursday in New Delhi between RIM representatives, the Canadian High Commission and officials from the Department of Telecoms.

“We had a meeting [with the DoT] today. It was positive. The talks will continue,” a RIM spokesman told the Economic Times. However, the paper's sources indicated that the government has become increasingly impatient with the company's argument that it is unable to provide intercept facilities to Indian law-enforcement and intelligence personnel. Western governments are widely believed to enjoy such access.

According to many industry experts, however, the simplest means of intercepting BlackBerry encrypted email en masse involves having access to one of RIM's email servers, at present located in the US and UK. It appears that RIM may be unwilling to bear the cost of putting more servers in India, and is understandably reluctant to give India remote access to existing installations. Furthermore, it is feared that other governments might then demand the same level of access.

“RIM does not want to bear this cost. Ditto with service providers who offer BlackBerry services," an unnamed industry figure told the Economic Times.

"RIM feels that if it accepts the demands of the Indian government, it will set a precedent as other countries may demand a similar arrangement,” added the source.

Negotiations continue. ®

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