DoT wants BlackBerry plan in a week

Written by Rishi Raj | New Delhi, Mar 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2008, 05:45am hrs
The department of telecommunications (DoT) on Friday gave Research in Motion (RIM) of Canada a week to come up with a plan that permits legal interception of BlackBerry services.

DoT summoned the RIM representative and issued a stern warning, seeking a solution to the problem by the first week of April. According to DoT sources, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Service Providers of India (Auspi) were also present during the meeting.

Fridays meeting was called in response to a March 26 letter to DoT by RIMs vice-president, global security group, Scott Totzke, highlighting the features BlackBerry services offered.

Sources said DoT officials told the RIM representative that the letter did not deal with the issues raised and that by the first week of April, a solution has to be provided by the company on how to legally intercept messages on BlackBerry.

Earlier, DoT had convened a meeting of the telecom operators on March 14 where it had in no uncertain terms told them that the BlackBerry services must have lawful interception as required by the security agencies.

DoT had then asked the service providers to outline a timeframe for implementing this service after discussions with RIM. DoT had also asked the service providers to submit a report on the global practices on interception of BlackBerry services, for which COAI had later sought more time.

BlackBerry services, which provides access to e-mail through push technology on mobile phones, is being offered by Bhart Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Reliance Communications.

Operators maintain that communications on a BlackBerry pass through a mobile network in a reformatted form and therefore the same can be intercepted on the mobile network. However, this is not possible where communication is from a BlackBerry device to another BlackBerry device.

As first reported by FE, the matter came to light recently when Tata Teleservices Ltds (TTSL) application for starting the BlackBerry services in India was rejected since there was no provision for lawful interceptions of the services.