Home ministry to meet telecom operators on BlackBerry security

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New Delhi: India's home ministry has decided to convene a meeting with all telecom operators offering BlackBerry services of Canada's Research in Motion to address security concerns over possible misuse of encrypted data sent on such devices.

"Our discussions with Research in Motion are on. But mobile phone service providers are also bound by their licence agreements to allow security agencies access to their voice and data under certain conditions," a senior official in the home ministry said.

"Even if the Canadian company is reluctant to allow us access to encrypted data carried on BlackBerry devices, Indian telecom service providers can't violate their agreements with the government," the official said.

The meeting is expected this week and it will seeks to make it clear that the intention of the Indian government is not to intrude into someone's privacy but to drive home the point that the country's security concerns cannot be compromised, the official added.

Officials declined comment on Research in Motion agreeing to set up its server in Saudi Arabia to address similar concerns expressed by the Gulf kingdom and whether a proposal from the Canadian company on the same lines in India would be acceptable.

The meeting will also include representatives from the various wings of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Asked if representatives from Research in Motion will also be invited, the official said: "It is possible."

Minister of State for Communications Sachin Pilot had told IANS last week the government was hoping for a solution soon, and access to data through BlackBerry devices was being sought only under certain situations and not to invade a citizen's privacy.

"We are working with them. They have given certain options. We are hoping they will come on board in addressing our genuine and legitimate security concerns," Pilot had said, referring to the discussions with Research in Motion.

"We would want Blackberry services to stay and expand. We only want to take measures to counter the possibility of these devices being misused. Our internal security people have no desire whatsoever to be obstructionists."

Research in Motion has shipped over 100 million BlackBerry devices till date, with some 46 million active subscribers through 550 telecom carriers in more than 175 countries.

The company does not share country-specific data, but the number of BlackBerry users in India is estimated at around one million.
Source: IANS
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