RIM gets partial solution, reprieve in India

The service was to be discontinued Oct. 31 if RIM did not meet India’s interception demands

India said that Research In Motion's BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service will continue to be available after Oct. 31, the deadline the government had given RIM to provide interception of communications to Indian law enforcement agencies.

The government was however silent on whether there had been a resolution of its other demand, that RIM provide access to its corporate e-mail service.

Following continuing discussion with RIM on the issue of providing access for lawful interception, RIM has set up an interim arrangement for interception of BlackBerry messenger services, the country's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on Friday.

RIM has assured the Indian government that they will provide the final solution for the lawful interception of the messenger services by Jan. 31, the home ministry said.

RIM said in a statement on Friday that it could confirm that its discussions with the Indian government continued to be constructive, and the company remains optimistic about reaching a positive and final resolution. A RIM India spokesman did not go into details.

The government had earlier asked for access to communications over BlackBerry's enterprise service and its instant messaging application. It had threatened to block BlackBerry services offered by Indian operators if they did not comply.

The government on Friday did not however specify whether RIM had conceded to India's other demand for access to RIM's business e-mail and communications service, called the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

A resolution to this second demand has not been reached according to a source close to the situation.

RIM said in its statement on Friday that it continues to approach lawful access matters internationally within the framework of core principles that were publicly communicated by the company on Aug. 12.

In RIM's August customer update it said that no changes to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers was possible as the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM is not able to give up its customers' encryption keys.

RIM has maintained throughout the dispute over access with India and some other countries that it does not possess a "master key", nor does any "back door" exist in the system that would allow RIM or any third party to gain access to encrypted corporate information on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

The BlackBerry security architecture for enterprise customers was designed to exclude the capability for RIM or any third party to read encrypted information, it said. RIM would be unable to accommodate any request for a copy of a customer's encryption key since at no time does RIM possess a copy of the key, it added.

RIM's position is that the government should get access to these communications through corporate customers, a source close to the situation said earlier this month.

RIM's BlackBerry Internet Service for consumers, by contrast, is provided through service providers and does not have RIM's encryption, the source said.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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