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BlackBerry users, you are safe for now

Last updated on: August 12, 2010 17:45 IST

BlackBerry users, you are safe for now

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The government on Thursday deferred a decision on blocking some BlackBerry phone services and decided to hold further consultations with all stakeholders soon.

"The meeting remained inconclusive. No decision has been taken and we will hold further talks soon," a home ministry official said. The deadline is extended till August 31.

The meet was convened by Union home ministry and was attended by officials of the Department of Telecommunications and state-run service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.

The discussion was aimed at finalising the government strategy on BlackBerry phones which is facing the threat of being blocked in the country if the telecom service providers do not address government's security concerns.

Meanwhile, a top official of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion -- which has nearly one million subscribers in the country and has a growing market-- paid a courtesy visit to Home Minister P Chidambaram.

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The Indian government had raised security concerns over BlackBerry messages since 2008.

It wants BlackBerry to allow monitoring of e-mails and SMS.

RIM, on its part, said the security architecture for its enterprise customers is based on a symmetric key system whereby the customers create their own key and only they possess the copy of the encryption.

It further said that the security architecture for customers was designed to exclude RIM or any third party from reading encrypted information under any circumstances.

The government had also urged service providers like Airtel, Vodafone, RCom, Tatas, BSNL and MTNL that offer BlackBerry services to allow the security agencies to intercept any conversation or message of subscribers if required.

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BlackBerry phones have been recovered from terrorist gangs in the past. With a BlackBerry, a user can have instant and encrypted communication with another, simply by calling the other person's unique four character number.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs recently asked the department of telecommunications to direct service providers to stop the operation of all third generation mobile services across the country, 'particularly in Jammu & Kashmir', till the infrastructure to enable full tapping of lines is put in place.

Noting Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited's launch of 3G services in Jammu, the MHA said apart from problems in interception of video calls, the existing lawful tapping infrastructure is severely limited in providing usable intercepts.

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Last week, BlackBerry had made a fresh attempt to break the logjam over its services in India by offering "metadata" and relevant information to security agencies which will enable them to lawfully intercept communication on such phones but it failed to enthuse them.

RIM representatives explained that BlackBerry mobile device sends encrypted emails, which is sent to BlackBerry Enterprise Server located with the service provider.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server decrypts messages and sends it to the email server of the service provider where it remains stored in decrypted form. Then it is pushed to the BlackBerry device in encrypted form.



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