BlackBerry Ban In India Postponed

RIM's engagement with Indian government officials may keep BlackBerry users from losing e-mail and instant messaging service.
RIM received a reprieve from a possible ban of its BlackBerry devices in India arising from the Canadian company's failure to provide law enforcement officials with the desired level of access to e-mails and instant messages.

The deadline for compliance had been Tuesday, August 31, 2010.

The government of India on Monday said that it has agreed to review RIM's proposals to accommodate government demands for lawful access over the course of the next 60 days.

At the conclusion of the review period, India's Department of Telecommunications is expected to submit a report that will determine the BlackBerry's future in the country. The government agency will also study whether RIM's communications services for BlackBerry users can be provided using a server based in India.

RIM on Friday said that establishing a server in India wouldn't help make BlackBerry data any more accessible.

India's government insists that it needs access to all telecommunications data for the sake of national security; RIM meanwhile insists that it is unable to decrypt BlackBerry communications because it does not have access to the encryption keys, which it says are held by its customers.

India is not alone in seeking access to electronic communications as an ostensible security measure. In early August, the United Arab Emirates said that it plans to suspend BlackBerry e-mail and instant messaging starting October 11, 2010 because it cannot access the encrypted communications.

Also in early August, Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission said it had decided to allow BlackBerry use to continue in the kingdom because RIM had been making progress toward supporting a system that would allow the desired level of data monitoring.

For its part, RIM continues to maintain that it cannot provide customers' encryption keys and that it provides governments with the same level of cooperation.

"In fact, while RIM does not disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government, RIM assures both its customers in India and the Government of India that RIM maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries," the company said in a statement on Friday.

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