The government has asked telecom service providers to upgrade their networks for interception of information sent and received on BlackBerry phones and be ready for demonstration of such facilities to the concerned authorities.
In a communication to the operators, the Department of Telecom (DoT) said, “Please upgrade your technical capability for lawful interception facility of BlackBerry services, if not upgraded.
“A compliance report that the network has been technically upgraded to intercept all BlackBerry services by legal enforcement agencies (LEAs) for lawful interception, must be provided to this office by September 22, 2010,” the DoT said.
BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM), which is in discussions with the government to provide a mutually acceptable solution for interception of encrypted data on the device, was given a 60—day reprieve till October to come out with a solution or face a ban.
The DoT’s fresh order comes within days of the company asserting that it “cannot compromise the security architecture of its enterprise solution.”
RIM is continuing discussions with governments in India, UAE and other countries, as well as with service providers, and “believe we have made good progress in those discussions,” RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie had said last week.
“I am optimistic that a positive and constructive outcome can be achieved,” he had said in a conference call with analysts last week. Balsillie, however, stressed that while it is “respectful of government needs and fully cooperating to comply with lawful requirements on an industry standard basis, we cannot compromise the security architecture of the BlackBerry enterprise solution.
“RIM simply has no ability to read the encrypted information and has no master key or backdoor key to allow access,” the company has been saying, while noting that it is a “fundamentally important security feature” for its corporate clients.
RIM has been given a 60-day reprieve by the Indian government to continue services in the country on the condition that the Canadian firm would have to ultimately set up a local server to continue with its full services beyond November. RIM provides corporate email and instant messaging services to about one million users in India.
The DoT told telecom service providers that “the date and time demonstration of legal interception system (LIS) and legal interception mechanism (LIM) in this regard shall be intimated to all shortly.”
All leading operators, including state—owned BSNL and MTNL, offer BlackBerry services in India.