RIM Questions India's BlackBerry Encryption Worries

RIM Questions India's BlackBerry Encryption Worries
RIM Questions India's BlackBerry Encryption Worries 8401643 

By Marin Perez
June 2, 2008

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) told the Indian 
government Monday that lowering the encryption level of its smartphones' 
services will not solve the country's security concerns because there 
are other companies offering similar systems.

Indian officials had put pressure on RIM to provide security agencies 
with a way around its encryption. They demanded either a "master key" 
into data and e-mails sent from the company's BlackBerry devices or that 
RIM set up servers that could be monitored by Indian security agencies.

Officials in New Delhi said they were concerned that because these 
e-mails couldn't be intercepted, militants could be using BlackBerry 
services to coordinate terrorist attacks.

But during a presentation to India's Department of Telecommunications, 
RIM pointed to four other mobile e-mail systems in the country -- 
Windows Mobile ActiveSync, Nokia Intellisync, Motorola's Good, and Seven 
Networks -- that utilize similar encryption.

Because these other services are widely available, RIM contends that the 
government would have to also take actions against those companies 
instead of singling out RIM.

Data on RIM's network utilizes the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard. 
The Department of Telecommunications has said it wants RIM to reduce 
this to a 40-bit encryption.

RIM has refused this request, as its strong security is one of the 
company's major selling points for customers. While there are only about 
115,000 users with RIM devices in India, it's a market that's rapidly 

Additionally, the company asserts that its security system is designed 
so that a third party, or RIM itself, cannot access the data being 
transmitted wirelessly.

"Governments have a wide range of resources and methodologies to satisfy 
national security and law enforcement needs without compromising 
commercial security requirements," the company said in a letter to the 
Department of Telecommunications.

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