BlackBerry Messaging Ban Looms

Research In Motion officials are continuing talks with Indian authorities in hopes of resolving a dispute over security issues.
A Research In Motion executive said he's hopeful talks with Indian authorities will yield a resolution prior to Aug 31, the date on which telecommunications authorities in the country have threatened to terminate BlackBerry messaging services.

"I am optimistic," said Robert Crow, RIM's VP for industry, government and university relations, following a meeting Friday with officials at India's Ministry of Home Affairs. On Thursday, Indian officials said they would cut off BlackBerry messages in the country next week failing a settlement of a resolution that centers around security issues.

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 have threatened to cut off BlackBerry service in the kingdom unless RIM makes decryption technology available.

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 last week. RIM and Indian authorities plan to continue their talks throughout the week.

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

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