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BlackBerry stock plunges on India's ultimatum

India's deadline loomed large over BlackBerry maker Research In Motion today as its stock plunged about four per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

business Updated: Aug 13, 2010 11:48 IST

India's deadline loomed large over BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) on Thursday as its stock plunged about four per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The share slipped $2.34 to close at $56.44 as India has threatened to shut BlackBerry services from Aug 31 if it is not allowed access to BlackBerry enterprise communications and BlackBerry Messenger.

RIM stock had staged a big rally on Monday after plunging almost 10 per cent in the wake of Saudi and UAE ultimatums and less-than-expected response to its new BlackBerry Torch 9800 last week.

Even as its problems piled, the most respected Globe and Mail daily hailed the iconic Canadian company for outlining its "principles" in response to India's deadline to shut its services.

In its Friday's editorial 'The freedom to connect is under threat,' the paper said, "India is the latest Asian country hoping to peer at the e-mails and instant messages viewed on or traded over Research In Motion Ltd's BlackBerry smart phones, setting an Aug 31 deadline for RIM to share the relevant codes".

It said, "RIM was right on Thursday to lay out the principles that underlie its dealings with governments, while all parties need to be more transparent in their deal-making and more active in standing up for the free flow of electronic communications".

The paper said India's security concerns need to be taken seriously as this "well-functioning democracy" faces "violent insurgent movements in the north-east. Its commercial capital, Mumbai, was the target of a 2008 terrorist attack emanating largely from Pakistan, although there is no evidence that corporate BlackBerries were used as tools of terrorist planning".

But the fight is about a larger principle, the editorial said.

"Government cannot be allowed to use any new access it gets to electronic communications to harass dissidents, as has already happened in Iran and China. That's why the most critical principle RIM outlined is the one that any access it gives to states be "governed by the country's judicial oversight and rules of law".

It said while national laws have to be respected, laws often allow a government to spy with impunity. Thus, "any deals BlackBerry strikes should make what has been agreed to clear".

But these deals are a last resort, according to the paper.

"It will take a larger campaign, one that cannot be left to RIM alone, to turn back the more general tide in favour of state interference."

"The US government has been rightly vocal in its support of RIM, as has Canada, but RIM's competitors and any country that aspires to be a player in information technology, including India, should join in calling for strict limits on state scrutiny of electronic communications".