We can work it out, RIM tells India over access demands

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has offered to set up an industry forum to address the Indian government's concerns about its products' unhackability.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has offered to set up an industry forum to address the Indian government's concerns about its products' unhackability.

RIM said it would support lawful police access while preserving the legitimate information security needs of corporations and other organisations in India.

The firm said the forum would work with the government to develop policies and processes that prevented the misuse of strong encryption technologies while preserving its "many societal benefits".

RIM said strong encryption would become more essential as the Indian economy developed. Banning it now would "severely limit" the effectiveness and productivity of India's corporations, it said.

The mobile supplier said other governments were finding ways to live with strong encryption. The only way forward was to work together, it said.

"The use of strong encryption in wireless technology is not unique to the BlackBerry platform. It is unquestionably an industry wide matter," RIM said in a statement.

It said strong encryption was "mandatory" for all enterprise-class wireless email services. It was also a basic commercial requirement for any country to attract and maintain international business.

"Similarly strong encryption is currently used pervasively in traditional VPNs (virtual private networks) on both wired and wireless networks. Singling out and banning one solution, such as BlackBerry, would be ineffective and counter-productive," it said.

RIM said banning BlackBerry would be ineffective and counter-productive because there were plenty of alternatives bad guys could use. The company said the discussions had been coloured by several misperceptions. The first was that RIM had the keys or back-door access to decode or decrypt the encrypted data that flows through the BlackBerry enterprise servers.

The BlackBerry enterprise security architecture was purposely designed to exclude these, it said. "RIM would simply be unable to accommodate any request for a copy of a customer's encryption key since at no time does RIM ever possess a copy of the key," it said.

It said the BlackBerry architecture was independent of location, so locating BlackBerry servers in India would not help the government to access their content.

RIM denied it had given some governments access to BlackBerry data flows. "RIM does not disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government, [but] assures both its customers in India and the government of India that [it] maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries," it said.

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