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    Update on RIM BlackBerry’s Security Questions in India

    In recent months, Research in Motion (RIM) has been dealing with the threat that its BlackBerry smartphones would be banned in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India and other countries because of security concerns — BlackBerries promise a “secure” e-mail service. Some foreign governments claimed that RIM didn’t comply with regulations concerning government access to smartphone information. The UAE had dropped its threats to ban BlackBerry cellphone, but RIM had faced problems in negotiations with India, with the possibility of a ban for its products in the country. In late August, RIM received a 60-day reprieve from India for its mobile phones while negotiations continue between the company and the Indian government.

    Now, the Wall Street Journal reports on continued negotiations between the Canadian company and India, which seeks access to the smartphone data.

    India’s government is in discussions with companies that use Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry to gain access to employees’ secure communications when seen as necessary, said a top Indian official.

    Home Secretary G.K. Pillai also dismissed reports that the smartphone maker’s services will be blocked if the government’s surveillance demands aren’t met by the end of January. […]

    RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, has been engaged in a high-stakes tug of war with various countries including India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which had threatened to ban BlackBerry services that they couldn’t monitor. RIM settled with some countries, but negotiations with India have continued, with its government citing heightened national-security concerns as reasons for needing to unlock encrypted messages. RIM has maintained that only its corporate customers have the ability to unlock secure email messages, and now India has initiated talks with some of those companies. […]

    RIM already has provided a solution for its BlackBerry Messenger chat service that will be in place by the end of January, Mr. Pillai said, and gaining lawful data access to BlackBerry’s corporate-email service will likely take longer than January because of the technology involved. […]

    A spokesman for RIM in India cited the company’s Dec. 3 statement, in which it said, “RIM has no ability to provide the customers’ encryption keys” for BlackBerry enterprise email. The statement also said India had agreed RIM shouldn’t be “singled out” from other companies with secure data services running on corporate networks and that any new moves to obtain lawful access to that data should be applied industrywide.

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