Sandeep Joshi

Home Ministry wants details of data transfer

Tata Teleservices seeks DoT clarification

Ban on the service can hit existing subscribers

NEW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry’s objection over Tata Teleservices application for offering advanced BlackBerry services, including e-mails on mobile handsets, has left other mobile operators already offering this service unnerved. Any blanket ban on the service could hit about five-lakh subscribers who are now using the BlackBerry service. This development has brought to the limelight other service providers who offer similar facilities.

Wireless solution

A product of Canadian firm ‘Research In Motion’ (RIM), BlackBerry is a patented service that provides wireless e-mail solution to mobile professionals and individuals, just like SMS on any conventional mobile phone.

Citing security reasons, the Union Home Ministry wants access to all communications made through a mobile device at any given time, which is not done now in the case of BlackBerry device which works through a server and data is transferred in an encrypted format. As Blackberry does not allow for any interception, the Centre sees this as a security threat, particularly in the current scenario where terrorist organisations are using the Internet to communicate.

While leading mobile operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Essar and Reliance Communications are already offering BlackBerry services, denial to Tata Teleservices will not only hit the growth of the telecom market but also widen differences between various operators. Tata Teleservices has already sought a clarification from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as to why only it was being singled out.

After the Home Ministry’s action, the DoT has swung into action and written to other BlackBerry service providers stating that they will have to provide monitoring facility for lawful interception of data transferred through the device. Operators have already held talks with senior DoT and Home Ministry officials, and soon they are likely to meet the Telecom Secretary to discuss the issue.

Apart from BlackBerry handsets, other advanced mobile devices are also there in the market that offer e-mail and push-mail facilities, which might now be brought under the scanner of the Union Home Ministry and the DoT.

These devices gives professionals wireless access to their offices and workstations while they are away, thus improving their efficiency and helping them work while on the move.