Telcos get a security call over BlackBerry [Mail Today (India)]
(Mail Today (India) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) THE GOVERNMENT has formally informed telecom companies that security agencies can start intercept Black- Berry Messenger ( BBM) Services with effect from January 8.
However, Canada- based BlackBerry maker Research in Motion ( RIM) maintains that it does not have the key to provide interception of its Blackberry Enterprises Service ( BES), used mainly by corporates, to security agencies. RIM claims that BES allows customers to create their own security keys which it cannot access. The company also claims that there are no backdoor tricks to crack the encryption.
RIM had been asked by the government to provide resolution and Web browsing requirements for both BES and BBM in consultation with telecom companies to enable legal interception of these services by security agencies.
BBM is an Internet- based instant messenger application that allows messaging between BlackBerry users.
" We wish to underscore once again that this enablement of lawful access does not extend to BlackBerry Enterprise Server. All of BlackBerry's largest operators in India have already achieved full compliance," an RIM spokesman told M AIL T ODAY on Thursday.
Telecom secretary R. Chandrashekhar said
that the Department of Telecommunications has been regularly communicating with telecom operators on this issue.
" I cannot specifically recall about the latest communication to operators on the BlackBerry issue but we have been regularly communicating with operators," said Chandrashekhar.
All major telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Tata Teleservices, had agreed last year to share real- time interception of BlackBerry calls and data services on their networks with security agencies to meet the December 31, 2012, deadline.
" In that case, we have no problem to begin formal interception of BBM services now. We are hopefully free from any technical
glitches and we have got our system tuned as per requirements of security agencies, who want real time access to Black- Berry services," said a top executive of a leading telecom company.
Airtel and Tata Teleservices were initially reluctant to fall in line but with RIM agreeing to provide real- time interception of its Black- Berry services to security agencies, these companies were now left with no option but to follow suit.
Vodafone and Tata Teleservices were among the first to report compliance. Airtel had also informed DoT that it is ready to test the equipment.
Operators had been pushing for an extension of the deadline but DoT had refused to budge on the issue.
According to the licensing norms, it is mandatory for telecom companies to put a mechanism in place to allow security agencies to intercept any conversation or message of a subscriber when required.
RIM had agreed to place a server in Mumbai for this purpose and also stated that it has complied with requirements of investigative agencies after their services were red- flagged on security issues as the interception was not in the readable format.
RIM had, at one point, adopted the stand that it was for the telecom companies to provide this assurance to the government.
This resulted in a crackdown on service providers.
The gridlock had persisted for over two years.
RIM, in the meantime, even tried to find an escape route by getting the Canadian government to intervene.
Unlike the intransigent stance it took in India, RIM had provided access to its services to the US and Chinese authorities.
All big telcos will share real- time interception of BlackBerry calls and data services on their networks with security agencies
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