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India issues RIM with BlackBerry ultimatum

The Indian Government has set August 31st as the deadline for Research In Motion (RIM) to bring its BlackBerry email and messaging services in line with India’s security criteria.

RIM has had a difficult few weeks; starting with the UAE, the regulatory authorities of several countries across Asia and the Middle East have proposed, or indeed enacted, bans of RIM’s BlackBerry device, citing security concerns about the encrypted networks used by the smartphone’s email service.

Now, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has issued an ultimatum, saying: "if a technical solution is not provided by 31 August 2010, the government will review the position and take steps to block these two services from the network."

In its second official response to the raised security concerns, RIM has stated: "although RIM cannot disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government, RIM assures its customers that it genuinely tries to be as co-operative as possible with governments in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements, while also preserving the lawful needs of citizens and corporations.”

RIM went on to detail the four conditions under which it will grant governments or operators access to communication data: access would be granted if it were legal, if it were no more extensive than access granted to other services, if it required no changes to the security architecture for corporate customers, and if no country-specific criteria were invoked.

The Indian security authorities have expressed concerns over many facets of the telecommunications industry, having recently imposed a ban on imported network equipment. Reportedly, BlackBerry is in good company, with similar concerns plaguing Google and Skype amongst others.

“At the last security meeting, the agencies were talking about BlackBerry. They were also coming out heavily on Skype and Google,” said Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of India. “They are tackling them one by one.”

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