Major telcos in the country, including Bharti Airtel and Tata have agreed to put in place systems to legally intercept BlackBerry services. They had been directed by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to put these systems in place by December 31. The telecom service providers initially resisted the move, but later complied. As it stands now, the telcos have installed the software for providing real-time interception of all facilities to the security agencies.
According to reports in the media, Vodafone and Tata were among the first telcos to comply with the DoT and were followed by Airtel, which affirmed with the body it was ready for testing the equipment.
Telcos agree to DoT's orders
BlackBerry was quoted as saying, “We are pleased to inform you that RIM has now delivered a solution that enables India's wireless carriers to address their lawful access requirements for our consumer messaging services, which include Blackberry Messenger (BBM) and Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) email. The lawful access capability now available to RIM's carrier partners meets the standard required by the Government of India for all consumer messaging services offered in the Indian marketplace. We also wish to underscore, once again, that this enablement of lawful access does not extend to Blackberry Enterprise Server.”
Research In Motion had previously been in talks with the DoT over the interception of communication exchanged using BlackBerry services, which are encrypted. RIM was asked to provide resolution and web-browsing requirements pertaining to BlackBerry Internet Services, in consultation with telcos and their interception vendors. Subsequently, the company agreed to install its server in Mumbai.
The DoT stated that despite detailed discussions with RIM, the telcos had not deployed the interception solution. A note issued by the government body added “…therefore, we may ask all the TSPs to comply with the Blackberry Interception requirement by December 31, 2012”. It also mentioned that all telcos barring MTNL had responded.
Blackberry met the requirements of the probe agencies after its services were red-flagged for security issues, as it was found that the content found on interception was encrypted and not in a readable format.
This is the latest development pertaining to what has been RIM's bone of contention with the Indian government for a few years now. The company had earlier reiterated that it could not provide access to its enterprise email and messaging services as it did not possess the encryption keys for it, which are in the control of its corporate clients. Security agencies in the country found it difficult to monitor the brand's popular messaging service, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), owing to its encrypted nature. For over three years, the security agencies in the country have been trying to get the company to install local servers so they could access and monitor the stream of messages going back and forth to implement better security in the country.