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India Delays Blackberry Bans For 60 Days

August 30, 2010

BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) has won a 60-day reprieve from telecommunications officials in India, who had threatened to ban certain features of the smartphone on Tuesday over security concerns.

“RIM have made certain proposals for lawful access by law enforcement agencies and these would be operationalized immediately”¦ The feasibility of the solutions offered would be assessed thereafter,” officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement, quoted by Reuters reporters Bappa Majumdar and Devidutta Tripathy late Monday morning.

Details of the solution have not been publicly disclosed.

Earlier on Monday, telecom regulators and security officials met to discuss the proposed ban on selected BlackBerry features, including email and instant messaging.

They have been seeking real-time access to the emails and instant messages sent by BlackBerry users–something that RIM “maintains is technically impossible for it to provide,” according to a Monday article by AP Business Writer Erika Kinetz.

RIM’s chief competitor in India, Nokia, has already agreed to install a server within the country’s border, according to AP and Press Trust of India reports. The Finnish communications company plans to roll out their server on November 5, and officials from their India branch the Press Trust that the federal government will have access to the information that it hosts.

According to Kinetz, Indian officials had said that they were “not eager to ban the BlackBerry,” but vowed that they would not “compromise on national security.”

A November 2008 attack on Mumbai, which was “coordinated using mobile phones, satellite phones and voice over internet phone calls,” is one of the reasons for the increased focus on security, according to the AP. In addition, the upcoming Commonwealth Games, which will be hosted by New Dehli starting in October, and “worsening violence in the disputed region of Kashmir and a rising Maoist insurgency in a mineral-rich swath of the East” have all contributed to the encryption crackdown attempts.

Other countries have also expressed concern over the security features used by RIM in the BlackBerry. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are among the other nations who are putting pressure on the Canadian telecom producer to allow access to emails and private messages, according to Reuters, and previous reports had also noted that Lebanon was investigating the smartphone.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed in on the issue, telling BBC News that her staff was “taking time to consult and analyze the full the range of interests and issues at stake.”

“We know that there is a legitimate security concern,” she added, “but there is also a legitimate right of free use and access”¦ So I think we will be pursuing both technical and expert discussions as we go forward.”

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