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India threatens BlackBerry ban

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India has followed Saudi Arabia‘s lead in threatening to cut off BlackBerry users, unless RIM provides the country with a mechanism to allow lawful interceptions.

Having met with the country's network operators, the Indian government has now imposed a deadline of 31 August. By the end of this month either Indian security forces will have the ability to intercept BlackBerry messages, or those messages just won‘t go through.

The threat of a ban isn't very surprising - India tried to negotiate with RIM, and was offered delayed access to communications, but the Saudis pulled the plug for four hours and got an agreement to put local servers in place.

In theory it's not RIM's responsibility but that of local operators to provide security services with access to communications, but if those communications are being carried over RIM's architecture then the operator can only get involved if it hosts its own RIM server.

The Times of India quotes a Union Home Ministry spokesman saying: "The meeting today asked [the regulator] to convey to service providers and RIM that the BES and messenger services be made accessible to Legal Enforcement Agencies (LEA) and find a technical solution by August 31."

Which leaves the country's million BlackBerry users wondering whether they'll still be able to communicate next month. The answer is probably yes, provided RIM capitulates. ®

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