The fate of BlackBerry's encrypted email and messaging services in India will be decided in last-ditch talks starting on Thursday between the maker of the smart phone and security agencies ahead of an August 31 deadline.Time is running out for Canada's Research in Motion, to give the Indian government the means to track and read its secure email and instant messaging services that officials fear have the potential to be misused by militants and to create political instability.
Here are some details about the problems the Canadian smartphone maker is facing in India and solutions so far:
India says it wants realtime access to RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Email and its Messenger services in a readable format. Security officials say the inability to monitor BlackBerry traffic undermines efforts to protect national security.
RIM has so far said it cannot unscramble data of its enterprise customers because it does not possess the keys needed to do so.
BlackBerry security is based on a system where the customers create their own key and the company neither has a master key nor any "back door" to allow RIM or any third party to gain access to crucial corporate data, it has said.
The encrypted traffic is delivered through its network operating centres, based mostly in Canada, though corporate clients can choose to host their BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES) elsewhere.
RIM can only identify the senders and recipients of emails and log items such as when they were sent or whether they had attachments.
Solutions so far
After several meetings, RIM proposed it could share the IP address of BlackBerry Enterprise Servers, and the PIN and IMEI numbers of BlackBerry mobiles. India says that is not enough because it doesn't provide access to mails.
The smartphone maker has assured Indian authorities it will provide manual access to its instant messenger services which bypasses the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
Authorities said the company has assured it was developing a tool to help provide fully automated realtime access to Messenger services by November this year.
Indian authorities have agreed to allow messenger services to continue beyond the Aug. 31 deadline but has vowed to shut down its corporate email services if no solution to track them is provided by then.
Impact of a possible ban
India has one mobile connection for every two of its 1.2 billion people and adds 16 million new subscribers a month.
A shutdown would affect about 1 million users in India out of a total 41 million BlackBerry users worldwide, allowing them to use the devices only for calls and Internet browsing.
Analysts say a ban would definitely impact sales of BlackBerry services in the country.