India proposes formula to break BlackBerry logjam: report

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The Independent Tech

India's government has proposed a formula that could avert its threatened shutdown of the core features of the BlackBerry smartphone over security worries, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The communications ministry has put forward a plan by which security agencies could gain access to heavily encrypted corporate email sent on a Blackberry handset, the Economic Times said.

Under the proposal, each time a corporate email is sent through a server on a company premises, a copy could be fed to monitoring systems installed by Internet service providers.

The newspaper said India's Intelligence Bureau was testing the solution.

Last week, India said it would cut off BlackBerry corporate email and instant messaging unless the smartphone's Canadian makers Research in Motion (RIM) provided access to the services by the end of the month.

Home Ministry officials began discussions Tuesday with RIM technical representatives and cellular phone companies.

India's telecom operators have a legal responsibility to ensure security agencies can access all services carried on their networks.

There was no immediate comment from RIM or the Indian government on the Economic Times report.

India, battling insurgencies from Kashmir in the northwest to the far-flung northeast, has raised fears BlackBerry services could be used by militants. Islamist extremists used mobiles to coordinate the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

India, which has wide powers to monitor communications, can already monitor so-called BlackBerry "consumer mails" which have a lower level of encryption.

The report came a day after a senior official of the United Arab Emirates said the UAE was making progress in talks with RIM and expressed a hope that a threatened October ban on some of the BlackBerry device's key services could be avoided.