Reuters | Oct 2, 2010 | 1:18am IST
The maker of the BlackBerry Smartphone has granted India’s government manual access to its Messenger service and has promised automated access by Jan. 1, enabling authorities to track such messages in real time, the country’s top interior ministry official said on Friday.
India, one of the world’s fastest growing mobile telephone markets, also wants access to encrypted email traffic sent via Research In Motion’s enterprise servers. The BlackBerry maker says its system is designed so that only the sponsoring business or organization has the technical capability to grant such access.
India, among several countries to express concerns BlackBerry services could be used to stir political or social instability, has threatened RIM with a ban if denied access to the data. RIM won a 60-day reprieve from India at the end of August after offering India a solution to monitor some BlackBerry data, a claim yet to be confirmed by the Canadian firm. "We have manual access to the Messenger service. We want automated access and we are hopeful of getting it from January 1," G.K. Pillai, India’s home (interior) secretary, told Reuters.
At the moment, security agencies are getting manual printouts of chat messages within four to five hours of placing their requirements with RIM, a home ministry source said, adding that once it gets automated access, it
Indian Trade Minister Anand Sharma was in Ottawa discussing various trade issues along with BlackBerry ban. India has been demanding the mobile phone maker “Research in Motion – RIM” to provide access for the government to its highly encrypted BlackBerry services.
The Indian government has set a deadline previously (30 August) to decide whether to provide access for security forces to the encrypted services of messaging and e-mail services, or leave India. The RIM has offered several ways to allow security authorities to monitor BlackBerry communications. The government extended its deadline to 60 more days to check the feasibility of the ways offered by BlackBerry.
Doctor suggests what patient wants
Canadian trade minister Peter Van Loan after meeting with his Indian minister of commerce and industry, Anand Sharma, said that he believed the India was seeking the same thing what Canadian laws provide to their people and he was hopeful that the agreement could be reached.
"In Canada, when the police or a security agency presents evidence to a judge and obtains a warrant, they are able to intercept telephone calls and other forms of communications," Van Loan said to reporters according to Reuters.
However, Mr. Van loan might not have interpreted exactly or nearly at least, what the Indian government sought, because according Canadian laws there existed a condition for security agencies to show evidence to enable them to intercept the communications. In India, there is no such law that requires evidence for police to go on to intercept any communication. The people have not way to know whether their phones are being intercepted, let alone claiming for privacy.
Reuters | Sep 1, 2010 | 7:07pm IST
India on Wednesday launched a clampdown on major Internet communications firms, including Google and Skype, and began accessing some BlackBerry traffic in a campaign driven by security fears. Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said notices were being sent to Google and Skype asking them to set up servers in India and allow access to web data that officials fear could be misused by militants. Several other countries, most of them in the Middle East, have raised concerns that the BlackBerry might be used to aid terrorism or peddle pornography. But India could be the first to act against firms such as BlackBerry maker RIM, setting a precedent that could hurt companies with a reputation built on system security. Such moves could also impact the shape of India’s mobile phone market, the world’s fastest-growing, and possibly hand gains to Apple Inc and Nokia, BlackBerry’s two biggest smartphone rivals in India.
Pillai’s comments come after a weeks-long standoff between India and BlackBerry over a workable way for the government to monitor its data. India has said it wants the means to fully track and read BlackBerry communications. RIM won a reprieve this week after the government said the smartphone company had offered some solutions to access data which it was studying. India’s Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said RIM had begun giving India access to its secure data from Wednesday. "Discussions for technical solutions for further access are continuing and the matter will be reviewed within 60 days," Chidambaram said in a statement. A Google spokeswoman based in India said: "We have not received any communication on this issue from the government. If and when we do, we will review and respond."
BBC News | Aug 27, 2010 10:34pm IST
Research In Motion, its global growth and its secure-email niche challenged by both rivals and governments, is preparing for a long fight it may yet lose on a shifting battlefield. The Canadian company’s BlackBerry smartphone was once a byword for safe corporate communication. But its North American market share has shrunk as some core clients loosen security specifications to let employees use alternatives like Apple’s iPhone and devices running Google’s Android operating system. And RIM’s new BlackBerry Torch touchscreen phone, a possible rival to the iPhone, has met a muted reception. In a parallel challenge, India and other countries are seeking enhanced access to BlackBerry emails and instant messages. "Apple and Android have changed the world RIM created," said Ian Grant, the head of telecom consultancy SeaBoard Group. "But they’re actually expanding the universe more than they are cannibalizing it."
RIM launched the Torch amid unusual fanfare this month as it sought to reinvigorate its image with consumers amid a shrinking divide between devices for business and pleasure. But the high-profile launch failed to drum up even a hint of the excitement generated by Apple launches and no one lined up for hours at a flagship store — RIM doesn’t even have one. The Torch, which combines the familiar RIM keyboard with the sexier touchscreen and an updated operating system, may be a slow-burn device that catches up with competitors rather than overtaking them, but it’s not an Apple-style revolution. In its efforts to catch up, RIM has purchased an application storefront company called Cellmania to grow its revamped BlackBerry App World, whose 9,000-odd offerings are eclipsed by Apple’s 200,000-plus third-party applications.
Cellmania, bought for an undisclosed price, will give RIM a way to track downloaded content and let users have charges included in regular phone bills. Its clients include AT&T, which has exclusive U.S. rights to the Torch, Australia’s Telstra and Spain’s Telefonica. RIM has also claimed the web domain http://www.blackpad.com, in what industry-watchers speculate is a preparatory move toward launching a tablet computer of the same name this year — perhaps a secure, business-friendly rival to the iPad.
BBC News | 17 August 2010 | 10:32 GMT
India has sent formal notices to the country’s mobile operators telling them they must have equipment to monitor Blackberry services by 31 August. The move will increase pressure on Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) to allow Indian security agencies access to encrypted messages. Tata Teleservices told BBC News that the letter said it must “ensure that Legal Intervention (LI) capability is put in place” by the end of the month. RIM said it grants “lawful” access. A spokesperson for Tata Teleservices said: “As a Tata Group company, we have always abided by the law of the land and will do so here too”. Other operators have confirmed that they received a similar request.
The government has said it will shut down Blackberry services if the firm does not meet its demands to give access to its encrypted messenger and e-mail services by 31 August. In statement released on 12 August, the government said that other Blackberry services, including voice and SMS traffic, were already “available to law enforcement agencies”. India, along with many other countries, believes the device and the Blackberry infrastructure are a threat to national security. Blackberry handsets automatically scramble messages and send them to servers in Canada and other countries. Authorities have said they want access to these messages and the keys to decrypt them to counter terrorism and criminal activity. The row in India is the latest in a long-running dispute between RIM and international governments. The United Arab Emirates was the first country to propose a block on the devices, followed by a raft of others including Lebanon, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. A ban that was supposed to come into force on 6 August in Saudi Arabia has been postponed whilst the government holds talks with RIM. Continue reading
Research In Motion has assured India of limited access to BlackBerry instant messages by Sept. 1, and promised talks this week on monitoring its more secure corporate email, a government source said on Monday. RIM faces an Aug. 31 deadline to give authorities the means to track and read BlackBerry Enterprise email and its separate BlackBerry Messenger service. The government, concerned about the potential for militants to use the secure BlackBerry network to carry out attacks, has vowed to shut the services if RIM fails to comply, cutting it out of one of the world’s fastest-growing telecoms market. “They have assured partial access to its Messenger services by September 1 and agreed to provide full access by the end of the year,” a senior government source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
New Delhi says it will pull the plug on the two key BlackBerry services if Canada-based RIM does not comply. Upcoming 3G network rollout is expected to boost smartphone growth in India. “We hope they will address our security concerns,” an interior ministry official said. India is not the only country pressuring RIM, which built the BlackBerry’s reputation around confidentiality. That cachet among corporate and government professionals may be slipping as the firm accedes to some of those demands. RIM shares slipped 4.8 percent in New York and Toronto trade. It has lost more than 11 percent of its market capitalisation since August 1, when governments in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said they would also consider a ban.
Bloomberg | Aug 14, 2010 | 1:45 AM GMT+0530
Research In Motion Ltd. is seeking to reassure Wall Street customers about the security of its BlackBerry e-mail service as countries including Saudi Arabia and India press for more access to its network, said two people familiar with the situation. RIM has held at least one conference call in the past week with clients including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to discuss BlackBerry operations. At least one corporate customer has told RIM it’s not satisfied with the explanations so far and is seeking an additional meeting. The talks underscore the challenges for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM as it expands in emerging markets as growth in North America slows. Sales outside North America rose to 37 percent of RIM’s $15 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year, up from 23 percent in the fiscal year ended February, 2005. Corporate customers such as Wall Street banks favor RIM’s BlackBerry because its encryption and other safeguards protect communications from prying eyes. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and India have pushed for more access to BlackBerry services, out of concern the smartphone could be used to coordinate terrorist attacks or violate national mores.
Loopholes in System
Saudi authorities decided this week to allow the BlackBerry messaging service to continue in the country, after threatening a ban. RIM and the kingdom’s wireless operators are making progress in implementing a system to allow monitoring of user data, the state-owned Saudi Press Agency said, citing the country’s telecommunications regulator. Such reports have prompted questions from corporate customers about whether RIM is making concessions on the security of its software, said one of the people familiar with the conference call. RIM fell 77 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $53.40 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Since the U.A.E. said on Aug. 1 that it plans to suspend BlackBerry service, the shares have lost 7.2 percent. Continue reading
Yahoo News | PTI | Sat, Aug 14 2010 | 11:42 AM
The State Department officials have also been in touch with these countries to understand their security concerns. The Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, last week had termed the security concerns of these countries as legitimate. “We are taking time to consult and analyse the full range of interests and issues at stake because we know that there is a legitimate security concern, but there’s also a legitimate right of free use and access. So, I think we will be pursuing both technical and expert discussions as we go forward,” Clinton said.
On Thursday, the Indian government became the latest of several nations that have threatened to cut off Research In Motion’s encrypted BlackBerry email and instant messaging services if the Canadian company does not address national security concerns. India has set an Aug 31. deadline for RIM. It wants access in a readable format to encrypted BlackBerry communication, on grounds it could be used by militants. Pakistani-based militants used mobile and satellite phones in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. India’s demands follow a deal with Saudi Arabia, where a source said Research In Motion agreed to give authorities codes for BlackBerry Messenger users. The United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Algeria also seek access. Officials say RIM had proposed tracking emails without sharing encryption details, but that was not enough.
A meeting of government officials and telecoms operators on whether to restrict Research in Motion’s BlackBerry services over national security fears was inconclusive, a top government official said on Thursday. Worried about security, the home ministry held the meeting with at least one operator on Thursday to look at how security services could access encryption details for the smartphone, the latest global headache for maker RIM. State-run BSNL attended the meeting, but it was not clear whether any of the major private carriers attended. A telecoms ministry official, who asked not to be named, said the talks remained “inconclusive” after the meeting. A senior government official said on Wednesday that the government could ask mobile phone operators to block BlackBerry messaging and email until RIM provides access to data transmitted over the handset. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone’s VOD India unit are the largest providers of BlackBerry services in India, the world’s fastest growing market. A shutdown would affect one million of the smartphone’s 41 million users. India is one of RIM’s fastest growing markets.
If a shutdown takes effect, BlackBerry users in India would only be able to use the devices for phone calls and Internet browsing. In a matter of a few weeks the BlackBerry device — long the darling of the world’s CEOs and politicians, including U.S. President Barack Obama — has become the target for its encrypted email and messaging services. India, like several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, want access to encrypted Blackberry communication. India fears encrypted data can be used by militants. Pakistani-based militants used mobile and satellite phones in the Mumbai attacks in 2008 that killed 166 people. The Indian demands follow a deal with Saudi Arabia, where a source said RIM has agreed to give authorities codes for BlackBerry Messenger users. The United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Algeria are also seeking access. A spokesman based in India for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company did not comment on the talks.
Reuters | Aug 11, 2010 | 4:05 pm IST
India may temporarily shut down BlackBerry services if security concerns are not addressed in a meeting on Thursday, sources said, in a signal the Canadian firm’s tussle with authorities around the world is far from over. The latest ultimatum for BlackBerry maker Research In Motion comes a day after the company agreed to hand over user codes that would let Saudi authorities monitor its BlackBerry Messenger, as it seeks to stop the kingdom from silencing the service, a source said on Tuesday. In a matter of a few weeks the BlackBerry device — long the darling of the world’s CEOs and politicians, including U.S. President Barack Obama — has become the target for its encrypted email and messaging services. India, like several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, want access to encrypted Blackberry communication, which has been linked to militant activity including the Mumbai attacks in 2008 that killed 166 people.
The government would meet with telecoms operators on Thursday, India’s internal security chief U.K. Bansal told Reuters on Wednesday, but it was not clear if RIM would take part in the meeting. RIM declined to comment. India’s home (interior) ministry will press on Thursday for some deadline to be fixed for RIM to share encryption details. “There definitely could be talk of some deadline and a proposal to take strong action on BlackBerry services during the meeting,” said a government official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media. “If they cannot provide a solution, we’ll ask (mobile) operators to stop that specific service. The service can be resumed when they give us the solution,” the source said. The responsibility to meet Indian security requirements rests with mobile phone operators in India rather than RIM.
SAFE AND SECURE?
Much of BlackBerry’s success over the past years has been its secure network, allowing executives to communicate safely, but one of its top selling points has now become a problem. The German government has banned politicians and civil servants from using the BlackBerry and the European Union Commission this month rejected the BlackBerry in favour of Apple’s iPhone and HTC Continue reading
itbusiness | 9/8/2010 | 9:28:00
Saudi Arabia’s telecom regulator stepped up the pressure late Saturday on Research In Motion (RIM) by giving three local telecommunications operators up to the end of Monday to ensure that the BlackBerry service meets with its regulations. The kingdom had on Tuesday ordered a suspension of BlackBerry services from Friday. That deadline has been extended by 48 hours, according to the government-controlled Saudi Press Agency, which cited a statement by the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC). RIM and Saudi Arabia have arrived at a preliminary agreement that will involve the company setting up a server in the kingdom and providing the government access to the data, according to media reports earlier on Saturday from Saudi Arabia.
The extension of the deadline suggests that RIM and the authorities in Saudi Arabia are close to a solution, Matthew Reed, head of research on wireless telecommunications in the Middle East and Africa for Informa Telecoms & Media, said on Sunday. A CITC official, when contacted, however, declined to comment on Saturday whether the talks were over, or had arrived at a resolution. Satchit Gayakwad, RIM’s spokesman in India, said in an e-mail on Sunday that the company did not have any updates to share on the issue. An agreement between RIM and Saudi Arabia could have implications in other countries, including India, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Indonesia, Reed said. These countries are also demanding that RIM locate servers within their national borders, so that their security forces can access the data when required.
BlackBerry row surfacing now in several countries give a glimpse of the conspicuous world of state electronic surveillance that is changing already politics, business and espionage. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are both in dispute with Canadian smartphone maker Research In Motion(RIMM.O), saying they want access to the encrypted phones to monitor security threats. Both are threatening to block its messenger function. “The row highlights a growing gulf between the idea of a free Internet and the desire by a growing number of authoritarian governments from China to Iran to control information and deepen surveillance to tackle dissent and insurgency,” reports Reuters yesterday.
If RIM wants further expansion, countries like India are demanding access to BlackBerry messages as a condition. They suspect various number of insurgencies like Maoists, North-East ULFA, Pakistan supported terrorist organisations operating in Kashmir etc… may make use of the encryption facility available in BlackBerry devices to hide their messages from State security agencies. They even suspect militants used the handsets to help plan the 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people died. Lebanon and Algeria are making similar demands. “It is part of a wider trend,” said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst at London-based consultancy Control Risks, which advises companies on security, corruption, politics and other issues according to Reuters. “After 9/11, you had this huge expansion of Western powers monitoring electronic communications for national security. Other countries are now catching up. The difference is they want to use it more broadly.” That could range from monitoring and thwarting millions of potential dissidents to gaining advantage in business deals — a particular worry for Western firms sometimes in competition with state-backed companies. “It’s obviously going to be a concern for Western business,” said Wood. “You have the risk that some of this information may be used for commercial purposes.” Continue reading
India has not yet reached an agreement with BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion(RIM.TO), the country’s telecoms minister said on Thursday, after the government raised security concerns over the popular services. India is worried that BlackBerry services could be misused by militants as security agencies cannot access the messages sent through these services and has asked RIM to offer a solution to address the country’s security requirements. Andimuthu Raja told reporters that officials of the Department of Telecommunications and RIM were still discussing the issue. “We have not reached an agreement so far. Hopefully some solution will come out soon,” he said.
The government may block the BlackBerry messenger service but allow emails and voicemails if a solution is not reached, the Times of India said on Thursday, citing unnamed sources. Such a move would follow Saudi Arabia, which has said it would block BlackBerry messenger services, starting Friday. RIM has said that it is impossible for it or any other third party to read encrypted data sent via its enterprise offering and that the company cannot accommodate any request for a copy of a customer’s encryption key. Continue reading
BBC News – Saudi Arabia announces Blackberry messenger deadline 03/08/2010 | 21:36 GMt
Saudi Arabia’s telecoms watchdog has called on telecoms firms in the country to block the messenger function on Blackberry handsets from Friday. The watchdog said the ban would last until the state’s three mobile phone operators “fulfil the regulatory requirements it has requested”. But the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) did not reveal what these requirements were. The United Arab Emirates threatened on Sunday to ban some Blackberry services.
The two Gulf states have announced the bans on some functions of the Blackberry mobile phone, claiming security concerns. The United Arab Emirates wants to block sending e-mails, accessing the internet, and delivering instant messages to other Blackberry handsets. Saudi Arabia had previously announced it was to prevent the use of the Blackberry-to-Blackberry instant messaging service. Both nations are unhappy that they are unable to monitor such communications via the handsets. This is because the Blackberry handsets automatically send the encrypted data to computer servers outside the two countries.
‘Need for privacy’
Meanwhile Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has responded to a report in India’s Economic Times reported saying the firm will allow Indian security authorities to monitor Blackberry services. “We won’t compromise on the security architecture of our corporate e-mails,” said RIM’s India spokesman, Satchit Gayakwad. “We respect the requirements of regulatory bodies in terms of security, but we also look at the customer’s need for privacy.” And in a further statement the firm said it co-operated with all governments “with a consistent standard and the same degree of respect”. Continue reading