What’s Up With the BlackBerry Ban in India?

Research In Motion (RIM) has been in war with pretty much every government in the Eastern Hemisphere for the past few months. Why? Because its encryption technology and security features are good. So good in fact, that pretty much the entire Middle East, parts of Africa, Pakistan and India are all mulling BlackBerry bans. Why a ban? Because they cannot intercept BlackBerry data sent between devices.

RIM has a solution however. It wants to provide ‘manual’ BlackBerry interception services to governments. If a government like India needs data on a BlackBerry user, RIM will provide it with a court order from a respective government. Honestly, that’s pretty much the same configuration the US, Canada and the UK all have with RIM.

Right now, security officials in India are reviewing with RIM is providing. If they agree, RIM will be able to keep operating pretty much as it has, provided it gives data out on users that are considered security risks. Why does RIM have this problem? It has to do with the way it handles security through its smartphones. The average consumer uses BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service), this service goes through routers in individual countries and eventually RIM’s own servers in Canada. Thus, local censorship does not work, and neither does local attempts to hack messages sent back and forth. (Or emails if you want to get technical.) The ability for India to hack into BlackBerry Messenger Service (BBM) or emails at will, will certainly help the country against security threats from Pakistan.

However, India still has its own censorship issues to work out. It censors the internet almost as much as China does at the moment. The deal between RIM and India is expected to take three to four months right now with security officials reviewing it at the moment. What is especially a contentious issue is BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) which keeps India’s security officials completely out of the loop. Because of its encryption methods, no government can immediately hack it. Its continue existence in India hinges on corporations doing business there that need security, and the needs of India’s government which needs access to fight terrorism, corruption and enforcement for its own censorship laws. Long story short? It is a mess.

Let me know in the comments section if you think foreign governments have the right to demand access from RIM, or if they are overstepping their boundaries. After all, I doubt Canada or the US have any problem getting data on BlackBerry users immediately.

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