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India in talks for BlackBerry email access

India is in talks with Research In Motion for access to BlackBerry corporate emails, a senior government source said today, adding that its current access was only for the messenger services.

"They have started giving us access to messenger service from September 1," the source said. "Discussions are under way so that we get access to the other service which is corporate email so that we can read it in readable format."

A source had earlier told Reuters the Indian government had been granted access to data effective Sept 1, but the nature of the access was unclear until now.

Robert Crow, a vice president at the Canadian maker of popular BlackBerry phones, met interior secretary Gopal Pillai and other senior officials on Tuesday. Crow refused to comment on the nature of discussions after the meeting.

A spokeswoman for RIM was not immediately available for comment.

India had threatened to shut off RIM's encrypted email and instant messaging services unless it gained access to them, in a campaign driven by fears that unmonitored email and messaging puts the country's security at risk.

In addition to India, several other countries, mostly in the Middle East, have raised concerns that the popular BlackBerry device could be used to aid terrorism or peddle pornography.

The Indian interior ministry said on August 30 that the Canadian firm had offered several ways to allow authorities to monitor BlackBerry communications. The government said it would check their feasibility over the next 60 days.

India's efforts to monitor BlackBerry traffic could have an impact on the shape of India's mobile phone market, the world's fastest-growing, and possibly hand gains to Apple Inc and Nokia, BlackBerry's two biggest smartphone rivals in India.

Data sent from non-RIM devices is easier to intercept and only requires the approval of the carrier, whereas RIM says carriers have no access to its encrypted data.

India, the world's fastest-growing mobile market, also wants RIM and other Internet communications providers such as Google and Skype to put up local servers and allow full-monitoring of traffic.