India threatens Blackberry ban

India sets deadline for Blackberry's maker to allow authorities access to encrypted data.

    One million Blackberry users in India would be affected if a ban is enforced [AFP]

    The ministry also said that mobile phone operators would be obliged by law to shut these services if RIM failed to meet the demands.

    The announcement came few hours after the ministry of home affairs held talks with intelligence officials and state-run telecom operators BSNL and MTNL.

    Officials said RIM proposed tracking emails without sharing encryption details, but that was not enough.

    Meanwhile, RIM declined to comment on the deadline.

    Security concerns

    The Indian demands follow RIM's deal with Saudi Arabia, which allowed government access to its encrypted data. But while Saudi Arabia has only targeted the instant messaging service, India seeks access to both email and messenger.

    A shutdown would affect one million Blackberry users, who would only be able to use the phone for calls and internet browsing if it goes ahead.

    India is the world's fastest expanding cellular market and one of RIM's key growth areas.

    This year, India restricted imports of Chinese telecoms network equipment over security fears. It is also worried about the introduction of 3G wireless services with no monitoring system in place.

    Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have threatened earlier to cut off Blackberry services unless they get greater access to user information, citing security concerns.

    India, Lebanon, Algeria and Indonesia have all raised similar national security concerns about their lack of access to Blackberry data.

    Unlike rivals Nokia and Apple, RIM operates its own network through secure services located in Canada and other countries, such as Britain.

    An estimated 2.8 million emails are now sent every second. Experts say governments will simply not be able to track the tidal wave of information flowing around the world. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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