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| | India Threatens Ban : Report
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Update to Indias ban
Emboldened by other nations winning concessions on the issue, India has threatened to ban the use of Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices unless the company addresses security concerns. |
In this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010, a BlackBerry user displays a text message sent by his service provider notifying him of the suspension of services in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Associated Press) According to a report in Time magazine, the Indian ministry in charge of telecommunications will meet with all telecom operators in the country to discuss the possibility of banning BlackBerry services.
"Our concerns are genuine," the article quotes Vikram Sood, former chief of India's external intelligence agency as saying. "If a group of terrorists are communicating on a platform which the state has no way of accessing, then I have a problem. It's as simple as that."
The move comes as other nations are perceived to have won concessions from Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM on the issue.
The United Arab Emirates announced over the weekend that it would block email, messaging and web browsing services provided by Research In Motion's BlackBerry starting in October because authorities don't have enough access to communications from the devices.
This week, the Saudi government informed mobile service providers that they must halt some BlackBerry services starting Friday, although they have since backed off their stance somewhat as certain regulatory requirements have been satisfied.
And unverified reports this week suggest RIM agreed to set up a server in China to address the Chinese government's security demands — a claim the company dismisses as "speculation."
"Any claims that we provide, or have ever provided, something unique to the government of one country that we have not offered to the governments of all countries, are unfounded," RIM said in a statement.
"RIM cannot accommodate any request for a copy of a customer's encryption key, since at no time does RIM, or any wireless operator or any third party, ever possess a copy of the key."
The U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia are affluent but small countries. But like China, India — with 675 million wireless subscribers — is a much larger potential market for smartphones.
One of RIM's major differentiators is that its messenger, email and web services are sent over a distinct, encrypted network than other smartphones employ.
That extreme security has made it the darling of business executives across the globe, but has also raised the ire of security agencies who demand access to eavesdrop on the network.
"They need to be intractable on this one and they need to show they are willing to give up their business in a country like Dubai, if it means giving in to demands to eliminate their security provisions because the security provisions are so important to RIM's financial success," Rotman professor Joseph D'Cruz told CBC News recently.
"Once you start giving in to demands from different countries," he said, "you might end up compromising security."
U.S. President Barack Obama managed to change White House security protocols after he became president and officials wanted him to stop using his ubiquitous BlackBerry due to security concerns.
The article suggested the Indian government will give RIM until the end of the month to give it access to its traffic under certain circumstances.
Officials in U.S. and Canada have been quick to denounce the moves, saying the right to free use of communication devices should trump security concerns.
"We know that there is a legitimate security concern, but there is also a legitimate right of free use and access," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.