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BlackBerry row: Govt. sets August 31 as deadline
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Stepping up pressure on BlackBerry mobile phone services, the government on Thursday asked the phone-makers Research In Motion (RIM) as well as telecom operators to provide a technical solution by August 31 or face ban.

In a letter to Department of Telecom Secretary P.J. Thomas, Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai asked him to convey to the operators and Canada-based RIM that a technical solution be made available for lawful interception of BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) and BlackBerry Messenger Services (BBM) by August 31 or its services would be blocked.

The letter was sent after a meeting chaired by Mr. Pillai in which representatives of security agencies, Telecom Department and top brass of State-owned BSNL and MTNL were present.

According to a Union Home Ministry spokesman, “The meeting today asked DoT to convey to service providers and RIM that the BES and messenger services be made accessible to Legal Enforcement Agencies (LEA) and to find a technical solution by August 31.

“If a technical solution is not found by August 31, government will review the position and take steps to block these two services. As of now voicemail, SMS and Blackberry Internet Services (BIS) have been made available to the LEA,” the spokesman said.

Today’s discussion was aimed at finalising the government strategy towards BlackBerry which faces the threat of being blocked if telecom service providers do not address the government’s security concerns.

Ahead of the meeting, a top official of RIM, which has nearly one million subscribers in the country, made a courtsey call on Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

Last week, BlackBerry had made a fresh attempt to break the logjam over its services in India by offering “metadata” and relevant information to security agencies which will enable them to lawfully intercept communication on such phones, but it was met with little enthusiasm.
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