India government warns on BlackBerry

NEW DELHI, August 26, 2010 (AFP) – India warned the makers of the BlackBerry Thursday its messaging services could be shut down if it failed to give security agencies access “in readable format” as a compliance deadline loomed. A shutdown would affect corporate users among BlackBerry’s 1.1 million customers, whose communications have a higher level of encryption. India can already monitor so-called BlackBerry “consumer mails” that are less encrypted.

The warning came as local media reported a decline in sales of BlackBerry smartphones amid consumer uncertainty over whether the government would impose a ban on August 31 on messages carried on the handset.

“In case no solution is provided, those services which cannot be intercepted and monitored in readable format may be banned by the government,” junior minister of state for telecoms Sachin Pilot told parliament.

Following the warning, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) said it was prepared to set up an industry forum to resolve the security concerns.

India’s home ministry said earlier this month it would cut off the corporate email and messaging services unless BlackBerry’s Canadian maker gave security agencies access by August 31.

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