RIM Still Holding out Against India's Demands for Intercepts

Research In Motion is cooperating with the Indian government and local carriers to provide lawful access to communications via its consumer services, including BlackBerry Messenger, but the company has ruled out enabling government access to data transmitted through its corporate service, BlackBerry Enterprise Server, it said Monday.

RIM's statement is in line with its earlier stand on India's demand that its law enforcement agencies should be allowed access to communications on the BlackBerry, and indicates that the company is not budging under Indian pressure.

The remarks were triggered by a report in an Indian daily newspaper, The Economic Times, which quotes what it describes as an internal note from India's home ministry as saying that RIM has offered to install a "network data analysis system" at its premises in India to end a standoff between the Canadian company and Indian security agencies.

RIM said on Thursday that it was issuing the statement to clarify that it had not changed its position on access to data on BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The network data analysis system referred to in the newspaper report is the name of the tool required to allow carriers in India to provide lawful access to RIM's consumer services including BlackBerry Messenger, the statement said.

A RIM India spokesman told IDG News Service earlier this month that the company had agreed to provide the Indian government with access to BlackBerry Messenger communications on a case-by-case basis. The company will, however, only allow the government "lawful access" to these communications after following due legal process, rather than providing continuous access to the messages, he said.

Reaching an agreement on India's demand for interception of business communications on BlackBerry Enterprise Server is proving to be more difficult, with RIM insisting that it is not in a position to provide access to communications on BlackBerry Enterprise Server, as its security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys.

RIM has said 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.

The Indian government is working on getting access to these communications from RIM's corporate customers, according to some reports.

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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