RIM tells India no access for BlackBerry emails

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) said Thursday it could not give Indian law enforcers a way to monitor its corporate mail service, days ahead of a government deadline for access.

India had given RIM until the end of the month to come up with a solution allowing security forces to monitor encrypted data transmitted on the smartphone or face a shutdown of the core service.

"There is no solution, there are no keys (to the corporate email service)," senior RIM executive Robert Crow told reporters in New Delhi.

"It's not possible to do so because the keys of the service are in the possession of the corporate enterprises," said Crow, reiterating previously stated remarks.

India's government, battling multiple insurgencies in areas from Kashmir in the northwest to the remote northeast, is worried militants could use encrypted services to coordinate attacks.

Earlier this month, RIM announced it had given the government the tools to monitor its popular instant messaging service.

However, Crow said BlackBerry's corporate email service was part of a wider issue that needed to be tackled on an industry-wide basis.

"This is not an issue unique to BlackBerry. BlackBerry represents a very small fraction of the total population of VPN (virtual private networks) in India," he said.

There may be more than a million VPNs in India with high security features, he said.

India has also told Google and Skype that they must set up servers in the country to allow law enforcers to screen traffic, as the country widens its security offensive on Internet communications firms.

In October, the United Arab Emirates withdrew a threatened ban on Blackberry services after saying they had been brought into compliance with the Gulf state's regulatory framework, though it did not provide details of the changes.

Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia made a similar announcement last year when it decided not to impose a proposed ban.

India, which has the world's fastest-growing number of mobile users, is a key 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.

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