by Al Sacco

RIM to Let Indian “Security Agencies” Access BlackBerry Communications, Reports Say

Aug 30, 2010
MobileSmall and Medium Business

RIM could soon grant Indian security agencies access to sensitive BlackBerry user data in order to avoid an India-wide ban.

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) appears to have avoided an India-wide ban of its wireless services, at least for the time being, by trying to address some of the Indian government’s security-related concerns regarding BlackBerry e-mail and other communications. More specifically, RIM has handed over “proposals for local security agencies to monitor BlackBerry service” to the India government so those parties could potentially be able to tap into BlackBerry user-data in the future, according to

BlackBerry Torch 9800 with Padlock (Image Credit: Brian Sacco)
BlackBerry Torch 9800 with Padlock (Image Credit: Brian Sacco)

It also sounds like RIM has proposed locating one of its servers in India, which would also help to mitigate India’s worry. RIM recently said it would locate servers in Saudi Arabia, as well as provide access to some Saudi BlackBerry-user data, to address similar BlackBerry-related security concerns in that country, though specifics on which data would be opened up are murky.

Following RIM’s proposal, the India government reportedly granted RIM another two months to adequately meet its demands, or at least come to an agreement on them, before it imposes a BlackBerry ban, which would disrupt many Indian BlackBerry users and businesspeople.

It’s unclear to what extent RIM would open up its BlackBerry data in India, or whether or not security agencies would potentially be able to monitor BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), which is typically used by consumers, and/or corporate BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) communications. In fact, it’s also not clear whether those “local security agencies” would be Indian-government agencies or independent shops.

Regardless, if the proposal does grant access to corporate BlackBerry communications, it seems to be in direct contrast to RIM’s recent statements that enterprise BlackBerry data is encrypted and nobody but BES administrators have any sort of access to their unique BlackBerry encryption keys.

RIM has gone back and forth with the Indian government during the past couple of years over similar BlackBerry security issues, and today’s news is perhaps the most significant development, since RIM appears to have said it will allow some access that it refused in the past. Still, it’s hard to say whether or not an agreement is on the horizon or if an Indian BlackBerry-ban is still in the cards, since no official agreement seems to have been made at this point.

Stay tuned to the Mobile WorkHorse blog for updates on this BlackBerry security saga as they become available.


WSJ via MobileCrunch

Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Al at