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RIM Has Until Year-End to Let India Access BlackBerry

RIM Has Until Year-End to Let India Access BlackBerry
RIM averted a ban in the world’s second-largest mobile-phone market by giving a temporary solution on Aug. 30 to allow monitoring of BlackBerry data. Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- India’s government gave Research In Motion Ltd. until the end of the year to come up with a solution to allow security agencies to monitor RIM’s BlackBerry enterprise e-mail service, a government official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, didn’t give more details. The official said that a two-month reprieve granted at the end of August would be extended by another two months.

RIM averted a ban in the world’s second-largest mobile-phone market by giving a temporary solution on Aug. 30 to allow monitoring of BlackBerry data. India, concerned that terrorists may take advantage of the encryption in smartphones, has stepped up its scrutiny over the telecommunications industry since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 dead.

The company was also expected to offer a permanent solution, that would include real-time access, in three to four months, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said last month. India’s dispute with the Canadian company resumed this year after RIM upgraded BlackBerry encryption, making it difficult for Indian authorities to access data, Pillai said at the time.

Satchit Gayakwad, a spokesman in Mumbai for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, didn’t respond to a call to his mobile phone.

Emirates, Saudi Arabia

Last week, RIM averted a ban in the United Arab Emirates, when the country’s phone regulator said it wouldn’t implement a planned stoppage of BlackBerry service. While the regulator said it wanted to acknowledge RIM’s “positive engagement and collaboration,” it didn’t say whether the deal allows it to monitor messages sent by BlackBerry users.

Saudi Arabian authorities canceled a planned shutdown in August, citing the “positive development” in meeting the country’s monitoring needs.

RIM said Oct. 8 it continues to follow the principles for working with government officials it laid out in an Aug. 12 statement and wouldn’t comment further on confidential regulatory matters. In that statement, RIM said it doesn’t do “special deals for specific countries,” adding that the security of its corporate e-mail system hasn’t changed.

RIM has also said it cannot help governments access corporate e-mail systems because corporate customers hold the encryption keys to those e-mail servers, not RIM.

RIM rose 29 cents to $48.97 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The stock has dropped 27 percent this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Santosh Kumar in New Delhi at sthakur10@bloomberg.net; Ketaki Gokhale in Mumbai at kgokhale@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Foxwell at sfoxwell@bloomberg.net; Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net

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