Chidambaram briefed on BlackBerry, meet with service providers off

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) A senior official of Canada’s Research in Motion (RIM), the developers of BlackBerry, called on Home Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday, amid the government’s concerns over possible misuse of the security features of such devices.

‘This was a courtesy call,’ Chidambaram said in a brief response to queries from reporters outside his North Block office after his meeting with Robert Crow, RIM’s vice president for industry, government and university relations.

Officials later said the representative from the Canadian company appraised the minister and his team about the security features of BlackBerry devices and it was decided the issue needed to be discussed at length with concerned officials.

‘The meeting did not yield any result. Another round of meeting is likely,’ a senior official told reporters after the meeting.

Another meeting convened Thursday by Home Secretary G.K. Pillai with the officials of telecom companies which offer BlackBerry services was called off at the last moment. No reasons were assigned, nor was any fresh date fixed for the meeting.

‘There was only an internal meeting. That’s all I can say,’ said a senior official in the home ministry on the condition of anonymity, as he was not authorised to speak to the media on the matter.

Those at the meeting included senior officers of the Intelligence Bureau, Department of Telecommunications and the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, besides home ministry officers dealing with internal security.

The meeting with BlackBerry service providers was called to make it clear to them they were bound by the licence agreement to allow security agencies access to voice and data communications that pass through their networks.

The government also wanted to make it clear that the intention was not to intrude into the privacy of a BlackBerry device user but ensure that the country’s security concerns are not compromised by misuse of the device by terrorists and insurgents.

Research in Motion has shipped over 100 million BlackBerry devices till date, with some 46 million active subscribers through 550 telecom carriers in more than 175 countries.

The company does not share country-specific data, but the number of BlackBerry users in India is estimated at around one million.

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