BlackBerry Blackout By Indian Govt?
| by Abhimanyu Radhakrishnan |
CNBC-TV18's Sandeep Gurumurthi reports that Tata Teleservices' application to offer BlackBerry Services in India has been rejected after the Department of Telecom (DoT) forwarded the request to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Anil Sardana, Managing Director of TTSL, told reporters in New Delhi this morning that they were told by the MHA that the BlackBerry service does not allow for "lawful interception" mandated for all Value Added Services (VAS).
Sources tell CNBC-TV18 that when Tata Tele asked DoT why other operators were being allowed, the DoT fired off letters to existing BlackBerry providers seeking an explanation. Sources also say that two rounds of discussion have happened between these operators and the MHA. A final call is expected to be taken in a meeting with the Telecom Secretary next week.
A spokesperson from RIM – the company that offers the BlackBerry service – said: "RIM supports its carrier partners in India and we will work together with them to seek further clarity."
Security experts we spoke to were sceptical of the claim, saying that in June last year the French government had advised officials not to use BlackBerry services for precisely the opposite reasons. At that time, officals at RIM claimed that even they did not have access to the data on their servers (a questionable claim in itself), an explanation that could have them in a spot when they meet with Indian authorities.
Of course, we at Tech2.com are also sceptical about the national security bogey being brought up on every occasion. Indeed, the last thing the increasingly tech-savvy terrorist is likely to use is a BlackBerry. After all, he will either have to use corporate email or operator-provided mail (@blackberry.airtel.in, for example) both of which are easily traceable – it's not like RIM is a company that's going to disappear overnight.
Nevertheless, it's tense times ahead for India's crackberries!
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