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30 November 2023

India demands full BB access, Pakistan restricts it

By Reuters

India rejected on Monday Research In Motion's (RIM) offer to allow it only partial access to its BlackBerry data services as neighbouring Pakistan also moved to restrict the popular  smartphone's services. 

It was not immediately clear what the Indian  government, which says it is driven by security concerns, would now do after the Canadian smartphone maker failed to fulfill demands to monitor encrypted corporate email by a Jan. 31 deadline. RIM had previously said was confident India would not ban its services.  

Earlier this month, RIM said it had given India the means to access its Messenger service ahead of the deadline but reiterated that it could not give the authorities access to monitor secure corporate emails.   

Home (Interior) Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told a news conference the government still wanted access to emails. 

"I think a decision will be taken today by the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs)," Chidambaram added. RIM's India-based spokesman was not immediately available for comment. 

Last year, India demanded access to all BlackBerry services as part of efforts to fight militancy and security threats over the Internet and through telephone communications, demands echoed by several other countries that have also tried, sometimes successfully, to restrict the popular smartphone. 

On Monday, India's neighbour Pakistan called on mobile phone operators to stop BlackBerry services to foreign missions amid concern about the security of the communications, industry sources said.  

RIM encrypts email messages as they travel between a BlackBerry device and a computer known as BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). 

The Canadian smartphone maker has said that it does not have a master key to decode emails, adding that each organisation would have the technical capability to grant access to its own encrypted enterprise email.  

RIM said this month it would filter pornographic Internet content for BlackBerry users in Indonesia, following government pressure to restrict access to porn sites or face its browsing service being shut down. 

Last year, the company narrowly escaped a ban in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Neither side disclosed what RIM did to get itself onside with UAE telecom regulations.