RIM: India Will Not Have Access to BES

Image of a BlackBerry smart phone with India's flag displayed

RIM is still dealing with the threat of a ban of its BlackBerry smartphones in India.

A story in the Economic Times prompted BlackBerry maker Research In Motion to respond because of “inaccurate and misleading information.” The story said that RIM had offed India a solution to its demands for access to encrypted information sent between BlackBerry smartphones. This solution—a “network data analysis system”—has the ability to decode all data on RIM’s network according to the story. That’s what set RIM off.

RIM had offered India a cloud based system that would allow the country’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) messages. However, India rejected the solution because the data would go through RIM’s servers in Europe. RIM and India have been locked in a struggle over the future of encrypted email and messenger services in the country for months now with India threatening to ban BlackBerrys but going back on its deadline demands several times.

In a statement, RIM said, “Unfortunately, the story in The Economic Times contains inaccurate and misleading information, presumably as a result of confusion over terminology and a lack of understanding about the different security models inherent in BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES).” I’ll give RIM the benefit of the doubt on this. Many non-corporate BlackBerry users confuse the level of security their BlackBerrys possess with the level offered by BES. Unless you are running your BlackBerry with a BES server, things are not nearly as secure as you would think given RIM’s reputation in the corporate market.

The point that RIM wants to make is that “There will be no change to the security model of BES.” As has been previously reported, RIM is indeed giving India access to the BBM system which is simply scrambled and not encrypted like its BES email system. However, it is important for RIM to reiterate that BES is not going to change and that India will not have access to it. BES is exactly why companies love BlackBerrys—even RIM cannot access the data locked away within. If India gains access to BES, the whole system is compromised because of the changes RIM would have to make to it.

I understand the issues at stake here for India: terrorism, criminal activity, etc. However, the bad guys already have comparable if not better encryption methods available. Long story short, computers have made information easier than ever to spread and harder than ever to unlock.

Tags: , , , ,