Same Indian security rules for BlackBerry, other services: Minister


New Delhi : It is mandatory for all internet and telecom service providers, including those offering BlackBerry services, to extend access to calls and data passing through their networks to security agencies and non-compliance can result in a ban.

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Stating this Thursday in the Rajya Sabha, upper house of parliament, Minister of State for Communications Sachin Pilot pointed out that this same provision, as required by security agencies, was invoked for accessing data from Blackberry service operators.

“It is mandatory for the telecom service providers to install lawful interception and monitoring system before launch of telecom services,” Pilot said in a written reply, adding that for internet service providers, it is installed at their nodes.

“However, security agencies are not able to obtain the interception in readable format where complex encryption is used in communication,” the minister said, alluding to the coding system used for BlackBerry’s enterprise and messenger services.

“The Department of Telecom has asked the telecom service providers to provide technical solution for interception and monitoring of certain services provided through BlackBerry devices in readable format to law enforcement agencies,” he said.

“In case no solution is provided, these services may be banned by the government.”

The minister’s remarks came against the backdrop of India setting Aug 31 as the deadline for telecom operators to give access to decoded data sent via BlackBerry devices to law enforcement agencies, just as they have access to SMS messages and phone calls.

The deadline was primarily set for two BlackBerry’s offerings — the enterprise service, used mainly by corporates to connect their mail system with the device, and messenger for instant data communications.

“If a technical solution is not provided by Aug 31, 2010, the government will review the position and take steps to block these two services from the network,” an official statement issued last week said.

Research in Motion, the Canadian company that has developed the technology, has shipped over 100 million such devices till date, with some 46 million users through 550 telecom carriers in over 175 countries.

The company doesn’t share country-specific data but estimates suggest around one million users of the service in India.

According to the company, more than 25 million of the total 46 million users worldwide use the BlackBerry Messenger. The company claims that this service is so popular that its use has shot up nearly 500 percent this year.