BlackBerry faces India disconnection

Steve Dinneen
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JUST days after avoiding its services being shut down in Saudi Arabia, BlackBerry is facing an even bigger problem, with India questioning whether to allow its services.

The emerging economic superpower may temporarily shut down BlackBerry’s messenger and email facilities if security concerns are not addressed in a meeting later today.

The news will heap pressure on BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM), which was forced to cave in to Saudi demands to hand over user codes that would let Saudi authorities monitor its BlackBerry Messenger service.

In a matter of a few weeks the BlackBerry device – long the darling of the world’s chief executives and politicians – has become the target for its encrypted email and messaging services.

India, like several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, wants access to encrypted Blackberry communication, which has been linked to militant activity including the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

India’s home ministry will press for a deadline to be fixed for RIM to share encryption details.

Mobile phone operators could be asked to shut down RIM’s enterprise email and messenger services temporarily as a last alternative, if RIM does not agree to offer access to data.

The responsibility to meet Indian security requirements rests with mobile phone operators in India rather than RIM.