India claims access to BlackBerry comms
Long way from resolution, with only weeks to go
The Indian government is claiming that RIM has offered it access to instant messaging conversations within hours of a request, though access to email remains unresolved with time running out.
India told Reuters that RIM has offered to provide transcripts of instant messaging sessions, with real-time interception available by the end of the year. But RIM still has to sort out lawful intercept to BlackBerry email by the end of October or face a nationwide ban, while BlackBerry users in UAE are looking at a ban starting at the end of this week unless RIM manages the impossible, and quickly.
The UAE will instruct network operators to block BlackBerry communications, including web browsing, email and messaging, from next Monday (11 October) unless it gets lawful access to all communications before then. Apparently this is affecting sales of BlackBerrys in the region.
Messaging services are routed through RIM's servers, so can be intercepted, as can email services hosted by the company. But where a company has set up its own BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) the encryption key is only shared between that server and the handset, so interception is all but impossible for RIM or anyone else.
Still, reality cuts little slack with politicians who are more concerned with listening in on criminals than understanding the intricacies of modern cryptography - as evidenced by the various calls insisting that RIM should be forced to hand over the mythical "master key" that would allow government's lawful intercept.
Last month RIM's CEO suggested that governments set up national registers and ask their citizens to submit encryption keys, pointing out that any government that wishes to eavesdrop on its citizens should make the request of those citizens, not an out-of-country supplier of IT kit.
It's a suggestion of which other governments might like to take note. The Obama administration is already making noises about requiring facilities for lawful intercept to be provided by every company involved in communications within the USA - but then it's much easier to bully IT companies than an entire electorate. ®
Not too practical: "Set the bomb off in 2 minutes" and India finds out 13 minutes after the bang!
Sounds like RIM's solution isn't too efficacious as the time delay might be sufficient to let the bomb off and escape detection.
RIM could solve the solution by having two (three including the Obama version) levels of encryption - low grade for India and other developing countries and high grade for the less nosy governments.
Again, you can't beat software encryption contained wholly within a handset. RIM has proved that money (sales) comes before customer privacy.
JaitcH: Come on, any respectable level of encryption, even "low grade for India and other developing countries", is going to take longer than 15 minutes to crack anyway.
Don't give in!
RIM has a major problem: give in to these crackpot governments who want to spy/evesdrop on not only their citizens but any visitor in the country or lose out to millions of subscribers that they will lose if the vans come in effect.
With a ban, any Blackberry within the country will be useless for most commincation. Without a ban [i.e. RIM caves in], those despot governments can check on business deals without your knowledge [you think they will actually need court approval? I doubt it].
Sure those governments say it's a security issue. So let's say BlackBerries get banned, what stops terrorists from using some other form of communication? Encrypted Emails from an iPad? Soime other smartphone?
The US [as far as we know] aren't asking RIM for access and yet terrorists have them in their bulls eye.