India gives RIM more time to provide access to BlackBerry services.
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||13 October 2010|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, India gives RIM more time to provide access to BlackBerry services., 13 October 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4cb826b01e.html [accessed 20 April 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The Indian authorities have again extended the deadline for Research In Motion (RIM), the BlackBerry smartphone's Canadian manufacturer, to provide them with real-time access to its instant messaging and email services. The original 31 August deadline was extended to 31 October. It has now been extended to 31 January 2011.
But aside from giving RIM more time, New Delhi's demands have remained the same. Without underestimating the importance of national security, Reporters Without Borders thinks it is exaggerated for the Indian security services to want to extend their surveillance to the personal data of smartphone users. The press freedom organisation plans to write to the Indian authorities about this in the next few days.
08.13.2010 India gives Research In Motion deadline of 31 August
The Indian authorities yesterday told Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry smartphone, that it has until 31 August to provide India's intelligence agencies with access to BlackBerry's encrypted email and messaging services or else those services will be shut down in India.
Although the demand is being made in the name of national security, it reflects a desire to monitor and even filter communications. But India is taking advantage of the pressure being put on RIM by other countries to blackmail the company itself.
The Indian authorities are using the fact that Islamist militants employed mobile phones and satellite phones to carry out the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people. This kind of technology can be put to harmful use, the authorities argue.
The Financial Times speculated today that the Indian authorities could also demand access to other encrypted networks such as Google and Skype.
RIM tried to reassure users in a statement yesterday, saying it was doing its best to cooperate with governments and satisfy national security concerns while protecting the rights of consumers and corporate clients. It reaffirmed its intention not to reach any specific agreements with individual governments.
Saudi Arabia is meanwhile still allowing BlackBerry's instant messaging service to operate. The Saudi authorities had decided to suspend it on 6 August, but the blocking lasted only a few hours. Talks aimed at finding a compromise are apparently continuing.
RIM is nonetheless already cooperating with certain countries. It agreed at the start of the month to block access in Kuwait to more than 3,000 porn sites.