India calls RIM's bluff on email access

But RIM ain't bluffing

RIM has only hours left to achieve the impossible, with the Indian government reiterating threats of retaliation if it's denied access to corporate emails tomorrow.

The Indians gave RIM until the end of January to provide lawful intercept capabilities to emails sent from BlackBerry handsets, and since then has been pointedly ignoring RIM's repeated assertions that such access is impossible as it doesn't have the cryptographic keys needed. With the deadline looming, the Indian Home Minister told Reuters that unspecified action will taken.

RIM has already provided for lawful intercept of instant messaging, and email accounts hosted on its BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES). However, where a corporation runs its own BES then the encryption keys are only shared between the server and the handset: RIM delivers the messages, but has no way to decrypt them.

RIM has been repeating that position over the last few days, trying to get the point through and hoping to maintain service to the 1.1 million BlackBerry users in India. Now it appears the Indian government has decided that RIM is bluffing and intends to go through with its threat to ask the network operators to block all BlackBerry communications.

The Indians are probably looking at what happened in Saudi Arabia, which blocked BlackBerry communications for several hours until it gained concessions from RIM. But those concessions were, we understand, about filtering web access and lawful intercept of instant messaging - the Indians might think differently. ®

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