RIM offers BlackBerry fix, wins two-month breather

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 31 2010, 06:11am hrs
In a major decision, the home ministry decided that all Internet-based services like Google, Skype, virtual private network operators would have to ensure that their traffic passes through servers located in India. This way the government would be able to access all traffic which flows through these services.

Meanwhile, Research in Motion (RIM) got a two-month breather with the ministry agreeing to conduct trial runs during the period on a solution it provided to access data on a real-time basis.

The announcement came after home secretary GK Pillai convened a meeting with representatives of security agencies and DoT. RIM had submitted a fresh solution to access the data Friday, which was to be assessed by the security agencies over the weekend.

RIM has made certain proposals for lawful access by law enforcement agencies and these would be operationalised immediately, the home ministry said in a statement. The feasibility of the solutions offered would be assessed thereafter, it said.

The situation would be reviewed after 60 days, during which the agencies would conduct trials. It was also decided that DoT would study the feasibility of all such services being provided through a server located only in India.

The home ministry made it clear that any communication through telecom networks should be accessible to the law enforcement agencies and all telecom service providers including third parties have to comply with this. The home ministry will review the situation within 60 days by which time the DoT report is expected to be ready.

Lawful interception has been a sore point between the home ministry and RIM for over a month. While RIM initially insisted that it did not have any such solution and does not provide one anywhere else in the world, the government decided to talk tough.

On August 12, it set an August 31 deadline to RIM to either provide lawful interception on real-time basis for Messenger and Enterprise services or face ban on these. Subsequently, DoT informed all telcos that unless informed otherwise, these services be blocked from September 1.

Faced with saturated markets in US and the UK, RIM had no option but to fall in line. A team of its officials from Canada reached India and started work on providing solutions to the government.

This is the second major instance of RIM managing to get a breather. Earlier, Saudi Arabia had threatened a ban which was averted at the last minute when RIM agreed to provide a solution.