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RIM reassures Blackberry users as governments demand encryption key

Warwick Ashford

Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) says it will not make country-specific deals as it attempts to work with governments threatening to block its services.

RIM issued a statement after the government of India said it would block encrypted Blackberry corporate e-mail and messaging services if its security agencies were not granted access to them by the end of the month.

RIM is facing a similar threat from the United Arab Emirates if it does not open its services to scrutiny by 11 October.

The 6 August deadline set by Saudi authorities passed without blocks being enforced, prompting speculation that RIM is negotiating a compromise.

All three governments want access to Blackberry's encrypted corporate e-mail service and messaging services amid fears these could be used by terrorists.

But RIM insists that although it cannot disclose regulatory discussions with any government, the company will preserve the "lawful needs of citizens and corporations" while co-operating with governments in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements.

RIM also said it has drawn a firm line by insisting that any capabilities it provides to carriers for "lawful" access purposes be limited by four main principles: Such access has to be legal, it must not exceed access imposed on RIM's competitors, it does not change the security architecture for Blackberry enterprise customers, and does not require a country-specific deal that does not conform to RIM's global standard for lawful access, the company said.

The Indian government's threat to block Blackberry messages is running in parallel with an as yet unannounced decision to pursue similar concerns with Google, Skype and other communications services, according to the Financial Times.

The proposal was discussed at a meeting between the Indian government and telecoms and internet operator associations on 12 July, the paper said.


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