India’s demands are giving a new headache to BlackBerry maker Research in Motion after the government threatened a shutdown that could affect one million of the smartphone's 41 million users. India, worried about national security, could ask mobile phone operators to block BlackBerry messaging and email until RIM provides them with access to data transmitted over the handset, a senior government official said on Wednesday. If a shutdown takes effect, BlackBerry users in India would only be able to use the devices for phone calls and Internet browsing. “If they cannot provide a solution, we'll ask operators to stop that specific service. The service can be resumed when they give us the solution,” said the Indian official, who asked not to be named.
The Indian demands follow a painful deal with Saudi Arabia, where a source said RIM has agreed to give authorities codes for BlackBerry Messenger users. The United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Algeria are also seeking access. “By and large BlackBerry will hope for a solution… given India's potential. They wouldn't want to lose traction at a time when competition worldwide is stiff,” said Kamlesh Bhatia, an analyst at technology research firm Gartner. India, recently a growing market for RIM, fears the BlackBerry could provide cover for subversive activities. In 2008, a Pakistani-based group used mobile and satellite phones to coordinate attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.