BlackBerry Gives Real-time Access to Indian Government

The Canadian firm RIM – owners of BlackBerry have been discussing security arrangements with the Indian government for more than the past 18 months. It appears the government and BlackBerry has reached a settlement on giving access to intercept messages shared over BlackBerry’s messaging service.

Way back in August, 2010 Blackberry had offered a solution that would have allowed lawful access via an industry forum. This solution was not acceptable to the Indian government as it wanted RIM’s servers to be located in India. This was to facilitate easy interception of encrypted messages by security agencies.

Yesterday, according to The Hindu, RIM has confirmed to the government that it has set up a server in Mumbai, India. This will allow real-time access to the government for its messaging service. Though it seems that at the moment, the government has not insisted on interception of mail sent by BlackBerry users.

Why messaging is under scanner?

    • The government seems to take the view that emails cannot be used for real-time communication and hence might not require real-time access. But things are different with messaging services and even Nokia’s Push Mail service has been told to give the security agencies adequate access.
    • Another point to be noted is that the government has moved focus from manufacturers for smart-phones to network service providers like Vodafone, Airtel and others to provide access to interception.
    • The government has in recent months got a lot of criticism, for its recommendations to internet companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter to screen all their content. Hence asking for email interception at the moment might have raised another round of criticism over internet censorship.

BlackBerry’s Future

BlackBerry is available in 175 countries and India is not the only place it has had issues over encryption and access to its messaging service for security purposes. It might even roll out BlackBerry OS for other manufacturers to use, which might be a reason for BlackBerry to get not be too adamant. It also probably wants a clear road ahead in places like India, which is one of the world biggest phone markets and still one of the few markets in the world which prefers BlackBerry phones over Apple’s iPhones.

Unfortunately the recent service outage of its messaging service which lasted several days has not won BlackBerry many fans either.

What are your views on BlackBerry settling their dispute over access to their encrypted messaging service with governments around the world? Do drop in your comments.