BlackBerry may face possible curbs in India

RIM had some services blocked in Pakistan this year; the UAE mulls tightening security.
(Getty Images)
By Bloomberg
Thu 29 Jul 2010 11:02 AM

Research In Motion Ltd's BlackBerry service may be banned in India unless the Canadian company agrees to resolve security concerns, according to a government official with direct knowledge of the matter.

India has told Research in Motion to set up a proxy server in the country to enable security agencies to monitor mail traffic, according to three government officials, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential. Research in Motion’s spokesman Satchit Gayakwad declined to say if the Waterloo, Ontario-based company had been contacted.

BlackBerry faces increased competition from smartphones including Apple Inc's iPhone in India as the world’s second- biggest mobile phone market prepares to roll out third- generation wireless services.

Research In Motion had some services blocked in neighboring Pakistan this year and the UAE is considering tightening security.

“RIM does not disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government,” Gayakwad said from Mumbai. “However RIM assures its customers that it is committed to continue delivering highly secure and innovative products that satisfy both the needs of consumers as well as governments.”

India’s three largest mobile phone operators, Bharti Airtel Ltd., Reliance Communications Ltd. and Vodafone Group Plc’s local unit all offer BlackBerry services in India.

The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Telecommunications met about 10 days ago in New Delhi and the department has told the phone maker to comply with the demand, one of the officials said. The authorities intend to resolve the issue by the middle of next month, according to the official.

Mint newspaper earlier reported the government is considering banning mobile services including BlackBerry.

Research In Motion’s tussle with the Indian government dates back to 2008, when negotiations with the Department of Telecommunications ended with the company agreeing to allow monitoring of e-mail on its handsets.

The company faced obstacles recently in Pakistan, where the national telecommunications regulator said it blocked Internet browsers on BlackBerry handsets, citing concerns over blasphemy, and in the United Arab Emirates, where the telecommunications regulator is seeking to bring BlackBerry communications under emergency and security rules.

BlackBerry devices, introduced in the UAE in 2006, are not covered by the country’s 2007 Safety, Emergency and National Security rules, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in an e-mailed statement July 26.

Data from Blackberry communications is managed on servers outside the U.A.E., making it “beyond the jurisdiction of national legislation,” the regulator said. “Certain Blackberry applications allow people to misuse the service, causing serious social, judicial and national security repercussions.” (Bloomberg)

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