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Blackberry's India future: Still black and bleak?

By Kukil Bora, SiliconIndia   |   Wednesday, 20 October 2010, 00:46 Hrs   |    4 Comments
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Blackberry's India future: Still black and bleak?
Bangalore: It's December 31, which has been fixed as the deadline for BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion (RIM) to come up with a final solution on the deadlock over providing Indian intelligence agencies access to the private encrypted data sent through its servers. While the government is quite optimistic about reaching out to a final solution, RIM says it doesn't have a master key in the system that would allow any third party to gain access to encrypted corporate information. That's where the issue stalls.

What is government's perspective on it? Considering the issue of national security, the Indian state government posses the authority of taping phone calls and messages sent through mobile phones. After unfortunate attack of 26/11 and various terrorist threats, it's now necessary to tap few suspicious numbers and prevent terrorist attacks. While all other phones or services can be tapped, then why not Blackberry? This is the question that the Indian government has raised, wanting access to data communicated across RIM servers, and its Blackberry server located in Canada. The government has so far been able to intercept and monitor voice-calls, SMSes, and emails on BlackBerry phones. But enterprise services and the Messenger cannot be tracked.

RIM, on the other hand, is showing its concerns about its customers' security, a point which can't be ignored as well. With approximately one million users, Blackberry has become a must use handset in corporate because of its services. RIM is telling that lowering the encryption level will make it easier for hackers to hack into the network and steal important business data. The company has refused the Indian government's request of lowering down the encryption level and setting up servers in India, a move that shows RIM's firm stand on its point.

What, if Blackberry is banned in India? For customers who preferred BlackBerry's email security and not Apple and Nokia's hi-tech phones, this development is a big setback. The use of the handset as the contention is only over the encrypted BlackBerry service. Hence, the ban would lead to email and messenger services, the USP of the phone, getting affected.

Other countries like UAE and Saudi Arabia also raised issues related to national security and banned Blackberry services. But as per the current updates, Blackberry services will continue to operate in the UAE as the services are now in compliance with the country's norm. Being hopeful with the recent developments, we can expect a suitable solution to the problem in India too. But yes, it will depend a lot on how justified India's demand is.

In a country like India that adds 16 million new mobile subscribers every month, the outcome is of utmost importance for RIM. If its services shut down, it would cause RIM to lose a huge number of customers, which would ultimately blunt the company's India growth strategy.

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Reader's comments(4)
1: watever it is.we should be concerned more about our countrys security...so blackberry should come up with some justified reasons or else we dont mind banning any service that affects our countrys security,whosoever it is.....
Posted by:suvojit banerjee - 25 Oct, 2010
2: Blackberry has become a must use handset in corporate because of its services.
Posted by:donna - 19 Oct, 2010
Agreed, but wat about the national security, who is responsible for that. We need to look into that too right.
Watever it may be if BB doesn't come up with a solution its better govt. ban BB services without any second chance.
It's really disgusting to hear from BB makers that they don't have master key for encryption then why the crap these services are being provided for..
Nice decision taken by Indian govt it's upto BB to meet the demand otherwise face the wrath.
vinod Replied to: donna - 19 Oct, 2010
In fact the Govt of india should give an extra year to Black berry for developing the key and ban the services until then. Govt should ask BB that they need to come only at the end of dead line and not before even if they get equipped with a solution. Only such steps will give strong signals to such companies who take the world's largest democracy for granted.
Sanjeev Replied to: vinod - 21 Oct, 2010