BlackBerry denies knowledge of agreement with India

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS,

Toronto : BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) Monday refused to confirm whether it has reached any agreement with the Indian government to provide its security agencies access to BlackBerry Messenger from Sep 1.

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“Any report about it (the agreement) has not originated from RIM,” a senior RIM executive told IANS, requesting anonymity.RIM is headquarted at Waterloo, near Toronto.

Asked whether the agreement might have been worked out between RIM representatives in India and the Indian government, he said, “Not to our knowledge.”

Pressed further if talks were already under way to sort out the problem, he said, “We cannot comment on that.”

He also denied any knowledge about news reports from India confirming the agreement.

Quoting a senior Indian government source Monday said, reports said, “RIM has agreed to provide manual access to the BlackBerry Messenger service from September 1. This would be upgraded to automatic access from November.”

Initially, RIM will reportedly provide data of individuals requested by the security agencies. Later, the security agencies will get automatic access to this data, according to reports.

India has set Aug 31 as the deadline for RIM to allow it access to BlackBerry Messenger and BlackBerry corporate email service.

With more than 1.1 million subscribers, India accounts for about two percent of BlackBerry’s global market.

Meanwhile, RIM stock sank further by more than four percent Monday after a lacklustre last week.

The share plunged 4.62 percent to close at $53.02 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Monday. Since its height of more than $150 in June 2008 just before the start of the global economic crisis, RIM has lost more than 65 percent of tis market value.

With Apple’s iPhone 4 and Google Android smart phones set to topple it from its top perch in North America, RIM is looking to developing markets and consumer and youth segments to increase its base currently at 46 million subscribers.

Access to its highly popular BlackBerry Messenger by India and other countries is a big setback for RIM.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at [email protected])