updated 11:25 am EDT, Mon August 30, 2010
BlackBerry averts India ban with two-month test
RIM has developed a method that would let the Indian government spy on BlackBerry messages and avoid a possible ban, home ministry representative Onkar Kedia said on Monday. The unidentified method will be tested for the next 60 days and, if successful, will avoid a restriction that would have banned BES-based e-mail and BlackBerry Messenger effective tomorrow. RIM has yet to comment on the new approach.
The approach may prove controversial through RIM's approach to security. It has insisted that it would treat all countries equally and offer the same monitoring tools elsewhere. The step might avoid Saudi Arabian and UAE bans but may also make corporate customers leery. Many of them depend on the tightly encrypted nature of BlackBerry e-mail to keep information private, but the US and many other countries could now requests the Indian tool and potentially negate RIM's main advantage.
RIM is under intense pressure to give in to security requests as it could lose significant market share if every affected BlackBerry owner defects away. Of the 41 million BlackBerries in active use, about 1.1 million are in India, while another 1.2 million are split between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.