India jumped into the BlackBerry controversy Thursday by demanding that Research in Motion allow Indian law enforcement access to Blackberry Enterprise Service and Blackberry Messenger Service data by Aug. 31.
If RIM refuses, the country will "take steps to block these two services from the network," India's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.
India wants its law enforcement agencies to have access to the information traveling via BES and BBM for surveillance purposes. The country already has access to BlackBerry voice, text, and Internet services, the ministry said.
"Although RIM cannot disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government, RIM assures its customers that it genuinely tries to be as cooperative as possible with governments in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements, while also preserving the lawful needs of citizens and corporations," RIM said in a statement.
RIM said it has "drawn a firm line" and insisted that any carriers that provide BlackBerry services adhere to four basic principles: the carriers' capabilities be limited to the strict context of lawful access and national security requirements; the carriers' capabilities must be technology and vendor neutral; no changes will be made to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server customer since; and RIM maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries.
India is just the latest country to threaten to shut down BlackBerry services. Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates said it would block BlackBerry services by Oct. 11 over similar concerns. Saudi Arabia followed suit several days later, promising to shut down service by Aug. 6, but officials relented this week, and said they would allow BlackBerry services to remain while talks continued.
At issue is the encrypted network over which BlackBerry data travels. After the announcement from the UAE, RIM said it offers one BlackBerry enterprise solution to all its customers, and does not favor one country's government over another.
"The BlackBerry enterprise solution was designed to preclude RIM, or any third party, from reading encrypted information under any circumstances since RIM does not store or have access to the encrypted data," RIM said at the time. "RIM cannot accommodate any request for a copy of a customer's encryption key, since at no time does RIM, or any wireless network operator or any third party, ever possess a copy of the key. This means that customers of the BlackBerry enterprise solution can maintain confidence in the integrity of the security architecture without fear of compromise."