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    No explicit permission to start BlackBerry services without setting up server: DoT

    Published on August 16, 2010

     In a development that could impact BlackBerry services and also the ongoing discussions with its maker Research in Motion over security concerns, the Department of Telecom has said that no permission was given to start the service in the country.

    According to senior DoT officials, “no explicit permission has been given by the government to start BlackBerry services in the country without setting up server.”

    This assumes importance as nine leading telecom firms, including government-owned- BSNL and MTNL–and other leading private players Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, RCom and Tatas are offering BlackBerry services in the country and the cumulative subscriber base is nearly one million.

    “At present BlackBerry services are being provided by 9-Telecom Service Providers. The security agencies are unable to intercept and monitor BlackBerry services because of complex encrypted communication and non availability of BlackBerry servers in India,” says an internal noting of DoT.

    This is despite the fact that the government has formulated a policy regarding internet services. As per the policy, the licenses (operators) have to ensure that bulk encryption was not deployed by Internet Service Providers.

    Further, individuals, groups and organisations are permitted to use encryption up to 40-bit key length without obtaining permission from the licensor.

    However, for deploying encryption equipment with higher limit, prior permission has to be obtained and the decryption key has to be deposited with the government, DoT said.

    The government is in dialogue with service providers and BlackBerry to find out a solution for interception and monitoring of such services.

    However, RIM the company that makes Blackberry phones had recently expressed inability to meet the demand, saying no one including the company could access the encrypted data and did not have any “masters key”.

    The government has set a time-frame till 31st August for RIM to provide solution to the security agencies to intercept services like chat on BlackBerry and enterprise email services.


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