Faced with an August 31 deadline to address the country’s security concerns, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) on Friday said it was “optimistic” of resolving with the Government the issue of lawful interception of its services.
A three-member delegation of RIM led by Vice-President Robert E. Crowe on Friday met Home Secretary G.K. Pillai to discuss the government’s notice to telecom operators and RIM to make available before August 31 the lawful interception of BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) and BlackBerry Messenger Services (BBM) to security agencies.
“I am optimistic,” Mr. Crowe told reporters after a half-an-hour meeting with Mr. Pillai.
The Government has set the August 31 deadline for Canada-based RIM and telecom operators to address its security concerns failing which some of the mobile phone’s popular services would be shut down.
In a letter to the Department of Telecom Secretary P.J. Thomas, Mr. Pillai has asked him to convey to the operators and RIM that a technical solution to make available lawful interception of BES and BBM must be found out by the stated deadline (August 31). There are an estimated one million BlackBerry subscribers in the country.
The letter was sent after a meeting, chaired by Mr. Pillai, attended by representatives of security agencies, Telecom Department and top brass of state-owned BSNL and MTNL were present.
According to a Union Home Ministry spokesman, “The meeting today asked DoT to convey to service providers and RIM that the BES and messenger services be made accessible to legal enforcement agencies (LEA) and a technical solution be found.
“If a technical solution is not found by August 31, the government will review the position and take steps to block these two services. As of now, voicemail, SMS and BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS) have been made available to the LEA,” the spokesman said.
The discussion was aimed at finalising the government strategy towards BlackBerry phones which is facing the threat of being blocked in the country if telecom service providers do not address government’s security concerns.
Ahead of the meeting, a top official of RIM, which has a growing market, made a courtesy call on Home Minister P. Chidambaram.
Last week, BlackBerry had made a fresh attempt to break the logjam over its services in India by offering “metadata” and relevant information to security agencies which would enable them to lawfully intercept communication on such phones but it failed to enthuse them.
RIM representatives explained that BlackBerry mobile device sends encrypted emails, which is sent to BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) located with the service provider.
BES decrypts messages and sends it to the e-mail server of the service provider where it remains stored in decrypted form. Then it is pushed to the BlackBerry device in encrypted form.
The UAE had recently banned Blackberry services.