RIM Still Refuses to Give in to Indian Demands

The Indian government said on Friday that its security agencies are still not able to intercept and monitor in a readable format the communications made through Research In Motion's Messenger and enterprise services.

Voice, SMS (short message service) and individual e-mail communications can, however, be intercepted and monitored in a readable format by Indian security agencies, the government said in a statement through the country's Press Information Bureau.

The Indian government has been demanding access to all BlackBerry communications, as it is worried that mobile and Internet technologies are increasingly used by terrorists to communicate and plan attacks.

Friday's update from the government suggests that it has not yet made any headway with RIM, despite earlier this year threatening to instruct service providers to disconnect BlackBerry services if they were not compliant with its interception demands.

The government said that it was still engaged with RIM to find a solution for the interception and monitoring of Messenger chat and enterprise e-mail using BlackBerry phones.

RIM's India spokesman declined to comment on the government statement, instead referring to an earlier statement by RIM in which it said that RIM continues to be as cooperative as possible with the government in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements, while also preserving legitimate corporate security needs.

RIM has maintained throughout the dispute over access with India and some other countries that it does not possess a "master key" nor does any "back door" exist in the system that would allow RIM or any third party to gain access to encrypted corporate information on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES).

The BlackBerry security architecture for enterprise customers was designed to exclude the capability for RIM or any third party to read encrypted information, it said. RIM would be unable to accommodate any request for a copy of a customer's encryption key since at no time does RIM possess a copy of the key, it added.

India's home ministry said in October that RIM has assured the Indian government that it will provide the final solution for the lawful interception of the Messenger services by Jan 31. The government gave the assurance from RIM as its reason for not blocking BlackBerry Messenger service after Oct. 31, the deadline the government had given RIM to provide interception of communications to Indian law enforcement agencies.

RIM had provided an undisclosed interim arrangement for interception of BlackBerry messenger services, the government said in October. It did not, however, refer to the progress of negotiations on BES at the time.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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