India puts pressure on telcos over BlackBerry

NEW DELHI, August 10, 2010 (AFP) – India’s home ministry plans to meet mobile operators on Thursday to discuss allowing security agencies access to encrypted BlackBerry messages, a government official said. Indian law stipulates phone companies have the responsibility to ensure that intelligence agencies can lawfully monitor data handled by them.

“The meeting will be on Thursday with the telecom companies on the BlackBerry issue,” said the official Tuesday, not wishing to be named. He would not elaborate.

But the Hindustan Times said that the government planned to set a deadline for mobile operators to allow security agencies access to encrypted BlackBerry messages.

The newspaper said unless the telecom companies heed the warning, the government will disconnect encrypted BlackBerry services.

The intention is “to drive home the point the country’s security concerns cannot be compromised,” the newspaper quoted a home ministry official as saying.

The Canadian makers of Blackberry, Research in Motion, did not immediately respond to emails or phone calls.

India, battling insurgencies from Muslim-majority Kashmir to the far-flung northeast and mounting Maoist unrest, is hi