India extends BlackBerry deadline on data sharing

New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) India Tuesday decided to give more time to BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion (RIM), and asked it to come up by Dec 31 with a final solution on the deadlock over providing Indian intelligence agencies access to the private encrypted data sent through its servers.

‘They have been given more time following discussions which are progressing satisfactorily,’ home ministry spokesperson Onkar Kedia told IANS.

Sources in the home ministry said the new deadline will be till Dec 31.

This is the second time in six weeks that the government extended the deadline to RIM for access to its popular messenger, communications and business email and communications service, called the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

The decision was taken by the home ministry after a meeting with representatives of the Canadian smart phone maker and officials of the telecommunication ministry here.

The government had earlier given Oct 31 as the deadline, threatening to block the services offered by the Indian operators if they did not comply with set norms.

The government fears that online and mobile communications are increasingly being used by terrorists to plan attacks.

According to the licensing conditions, service providers are liable to put in a mechanism allowing security agencies to intercept any conversation of any subscriber whenever required.

The government first extended the original Aug 31 deadline to Oct 31. There are around one million BlackBerry subscribers in India.

The negotiations between the government and RIM are deadlocked on the issue as RIM says it doesn’t have a master key in the system that would allow it or any third party to gain access to encrypted corporate information.

Sources said the home ministry was confident that the final solution would be found by Dec 31.

RIM has experienced similar troubles with other countries over the messages sent through its server, with the United Arab Emirates warning to ban the service – a threat that was withdrawn last week.

Saudi Arabia has also threatened action against the phone maker.

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