RIM gives India access but not to secure e-mails

NEW DELHI Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:22pm IST

A customer holds a BlackBerry handset inside a shop in Kolkata August 12, 2010. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion said it has given India the means to access its Messenger service and reiterated that no changes could be made to allow monitoring of secure corporate emails. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

A customer holds a BlackBerry handset inside a shop in Kolkata August 12, 2010. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion said it has given India the means to access its Messenger service and reiterated that no changes could be made to allow monitoring of secure corporate emails.

Credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - BlackBerry maker Research In Motion RIM.TO said it has given India the means to access its Messenger service and reiterated that no changes could be made to allow monitoring of secure corporate emails.

India wants access to all BlackBerry services as part of efforts to fight militancy and security threats over the internet and through telephone communications.

"... No changes can be made to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers since, contrary to any rumours, the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys," the company said on Thursday.

RIM encrypts email messages as they travel between a BlackBerry device and a computer known as BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). The company has said it does not have a master key to decode these emails and only the sponsoring business or organisation has the technical capability to grant access to encrypted enterprise email.

Late last year, the company managed to avert a ban in India by offering interim access to BlackBerry Messenger and promising a broader solution by Jan. 31.

On Thursday, a senior interior ministry official said it was still to see the solution offered by RIM and the government's stand on access to corporate email remained unchanged.

"I cannot respond without seeing their reply to the government of India," U.K. Bansal told Reuters.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal cited interior ministry secretary G.K. Pillai as saying the government was talking to companies that use BlackBerry to gain access to their employees' secure communications when it was deemed necessary.

RIM has been buffeted by demands for access to its encrypted data from several countries worried about security and social mores. This week, RIM said it would filter pornographic internet content for BlackBerry users in Indonesia, following government pressure to restrict access to porn sites or face its browsing service being shut down.

Last year, the company narrowly escaped a ban in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Neither side disclosed what RIM did to get itself onside with UAE telecom regulations.

(Editing by Malini Menon and Dan Lalor)

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