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India May Crack Blackberry Encryption

RIM has been resisting pressure from Indian security officials who are demanding a way around the encryption used by the BlackBerry network.

An Indian government official said his country may use third-party tools to crack the encryption used by Research In Motion's BlackBerrys if the company doesn't open up its network.

"If they fail to come up with any satisfactory solution, we will invoke other options. We have been approached by other companies with solutions to decrypt the data passed over the BlackBerry network," said Telecom Minister A Raja during a presentation to the country's Department of Telecommunications.

Previously, Indian security officials had pressured RIM to provide the government with a way around its encryption. The government expressed concern that because e-mails and data couldn't be intercepted, terrorists could be using BlackBerry services to coordinate terrorist attacks.

The government wanted RIM to set up servers that could be monitored by Indian security agencies or provide a "master key" to look into data and e-mails sent from the company's BlackBerry devices.

Additionally, security officials wanted RIM to lower its encryption from 256 bits to a 40-bit encryption.

RIM refused the request, saying that its data encryption is designed so that no third party, or RIM itself, can access the data being transmitted wirelessly. The company also said it's being singled out, as there are four other mobile e-mail products providing similar services that are not facing the same demands.

RIM is hoping to make inroads with Indian business customers, and its security features are a major draw. While there are only 115,000 BlackBerry users in India, the market for smartphones in India is expected to grow rapidly.

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