Much discussion has taken place; a time frame now needs to be set for implementing the solution: DoT security wing

The Union government has asked all mobile operators offering BlackBerry smartphone services to implement the interception solution being offered by the Canada-based firm Research In Motion by December 31 to enable security agencies to check misuse of the encrypted service. It has turned down requests from telecom service providers (TSPs) for extending the deadline to early next year.

“As such, a lot of discussions/deliberations have already taken place [regarding implementation of interception solution for BlackBerry services by TSPs]. At this stage, there is a need to fix up a [time frame] by which all TSPs are required to comply with the requirement of deploying the interception solution in respect of BlackBerry services offered by them… We may ask all the TSPs to comply with the BlackBerry interception requirements by 31.12.2012,” DoT’s security wing said in an internal note.

The government has also told the TSPs that the “BlackBerry interception solution is in the final stages of development and testing by RIM and telecom service providers in conjunction with the Legal Intercepting (LI) vendor. The developed solution should be deployed in coordination with RIM and offered for testing to the respective TERM cells on or before 31.12.2012. Failing to successfully demonstrate a service/services’ [capability to stave off] interception as per norms laid by DoT, the BlackBerry service may be restrained [from being] offered to subscribers from 1.1.2013 through your network,” the DoT letter to mobile operators said.

Though some leading operators like Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices and Aircel have sought time till beyond 2012 for implementing the interception solutions, state-owned firms BSNL and MTNL, besides Reliance Communications, have not committed any timeline for its implementation. Only Vodafone has informed the Department of Telecommunications that it was ready for the implementation.

RIM had, following much persuasion from the government, agreed to provide Indian security agencies a solution for lawful interception of encrypted data and monitoring in a readable format and has put up its server in Mumbai to enable TSPs to connect with it. This will help Indian law enforcement agencies to monitor data on a real time basis.

However, the DoT and Indian agencies are yet to give their nod to the RIM solution after final testing.