RIM, India In BlackBerry Security Standoff

Dispute comes as Saudi officials threaten to terminate messaging service unless access to traffic is provided.
India and Research In Motion held talks Wednesday aimed at ending a standoff sparked by the Indian government's demand that the BlackBerry-maker provide it with decryption tools that would allow it to monitor traffic across the company's messaging servers.

Indian officials say they need to be able to intercept BlackBerry messages in cases where they suspect the devices are being used to plot terror attacks or other crimes. RIM, for its part, insists that encryption is in its users' hands and that it does not have technology that would allow third-parties to monitor BlackBerry traffic.

The dispute echoes a similar set-to that's transpiring between RIM and Saudi Arabia. Officials in Riyadh are threatening to cut off BlackBerry service in the kingdom unless RIM makes decryption technology available.

Canada-based RIM has offered to give Indian officials the IP addresses of its BlackBerry Enterprise Servers and PIN and IMEI numbers of BlackBerry handsets, Reuters reported. But the offer failed to satisfy security officials in India, which has been subject to a number of high-profile terrorist attacks in recent years.

"Those details do not give us access to encrypted services and is unacceptable," an Indian official told the news agency. RIM and Indian authorities plan to continue their talks throughout the week. Unlike Saudi Arabia, India has thus far not threatened to cut off BlackBerry traffic. Indeed, such a move would likely cripple the subcontinent's key technology services industry.

RIM, which manages its own messaging traffic, is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to meeting national governments' security demands.

The BlackBerry's vaunted security and encryption tools have made it the device of choice for high-end business users. But, with mounting competition from Apple, Google, and others, RIM can ill afford to alienate authorities that represent some of the world's hottest growth markets.

RIM this week introduced the BlackBerry Torch, a touch-centric mobile device that's designed to challenge the iPhone 4.

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