Solution on Blackberry security soon but no intention to snoop: Minister

August 4th, 2010 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) Minister of State for Communications Sachin Pilot Wednesday hoped a solution wil be found soon to access encrypted e-mails and SMS messages sent on Blackberry devices under certain situations but assured this was only to address legitimate security concerns and not invade a citizen’s privacy.
“We are wortking with them. They have given certain options. We are hoping that they will come on board with India in addressing our genuine and legitimate security concerns,” Pilot told IANS, referring to discussions with Canada’s Research in Motion, which makes the globally-popular mobile phone device.

“Let me also add that we want access to encrypted messages only under certain circumstances — when it involves our security, when we think it is being used for anti-national activities, when we think these services are being misused to harm our nation,” he said.

“But in no way the Government of India intends to either eavesdrop on a citizen’s conversation or invade the privacy of individuals. We are very clear on that.”

Pilot said India, the fastest growing telecom market in the world with over 675 million mobile phone subscribers, was in no way trying to curb the business activities of the Canadian company.

“We would want Blackberry services to stay and expand. We only want to take measures to counter the possibility of these devices being misused. Our internal security people have no desire whatsoever to be obstructionists,” he said after meetings with various wings of the government, including those dealing with internal security and telecom.

He, however, said though Research in Motion had been discussing “certain options”, the government was still awaiting a formal communication from them.

The minister’s comments came in the backdrop of both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia proposing to ban BlackBerry services if they do not comply with access requests.

India, too, has been seeking similar access in the light of security agencies finding misuse of such services among insurgent elements in certain parts of the country as also by terrorist forces operating cross-border.

Speaking to IANS after discussions with officials of the Canadian firm, a senior official in the home ministry also said there were some offers from RIM made to help security agencies access the details of the services, but found such access to be inadequate.

“We want full access to their encrypted services, nothing less. We cannot compromise on our internal security. But it also not as if we will snoop on all users,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as he was not permitted to speak with the media.

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