India gives nod to BlackBerry messenger services

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The Independent Tech

India on Friday said BlackBerry messenger services should be able to continue in the country after receiving pledges from the Canadian firm that law enforcers will able to monitor the encrypted data.

India had threatened to ban RIM's messenger and corporate email services if the smartphone's makers, Research in Motion, failed to provide the means for Indian security services to monitor the data.

"RIM has set up an interim arrangement for lawful interception of Blackberry or BBM (BlackBerry messenger) services" and has promised to provide "a final solution", the federal home ministry said in a statement, giving no details.

There was no immediate comment from BlackBerry, which has consistently insisted it was "optimistic" about reaching a solution with the government.

India, battling insurgencies ranging from Kashmir in the northwest to the far-flung northeast, has expressed fears that BlackBerry's heavily encrypted communications could be used by militants to plan attacks.

The government made no comment in the statement about the future of the corporate email service of BlackBerry.

But India had said earlier it was testing interception methods proposed by RIM to monitor both BlackBerry messenger and corporate emails.

India already can monitor BlackBerry's less-encrypted voice calls and short-messaging service known as SMS.

The government initially set August as the deadline for RIM to comply with its demand for access to BlackBerry's corporate and messenger services but then extended the deadline to January 31.

India, which has the world's fastest-growing number of mobile users, is a critical market for BlackBerry, which has 1.1 million customers in the country.

BlackBerry has become a global market leader in the smartphone sector thanks to its heavy encryption,

RIM has also been at odds with various countries in the Gulf region and elsewhere over its encrypted communication services amid fears of misuse.

However, the United Arab Emirates recently dropped a threat to ban BlackBerry services, citing RIM's "positive engagement and collaboration."

Saudi Arabia announced a BlackBerry services ban in August but lifted it after the kingdom's regulator reported progress in finding a solution to its concerns.

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