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India for 'govt to govt' deal with Canada

india Updated: Jun 29, 2011 21:41 IST

India is looking for a special "government to government" agreement with Canada to get access to all services of BlackBerry, including its enterprise mail, following differences between security agencies and the smart phone manufacturer over its interception.

Taking a cue from a similar type of pact between the US and Canada, India may go for such an agreement with Canada which will make Research-In-Motion (RIM), the smart phone maker, mandatory to share any information that the security agencies here look for.

"This is feasible for India," a government official said and indicated that the issue had figured during the talks between Indian security officials and Canadian national security advisor, who had visited New Delhi some time ago.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) is now examining reports submitted by RIM and various telecom operators on government's demand for interception facilities to the law enforcement agencies to Blackberry services, including popular BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES).

The home ministry had asked the DoT to ensure that all telecom operators submit their plans on when they can provide access to all services, including BES, whenever there is a necessity for the security agencies.

The sources said RIM was providing all intercepting facilities to the US under "government-to-government" agreement.

RIM, which offers the BlackBerry services through eight operators, has been saying that it cannot provide access to the popular BES as it does not possess any key and the security architecture is the same around the world.

"If they cannot give access, they have to put off their services in India," a government official said.

The order will cover all service providers, including RIM, Skype and others. There are over one million BlackBerry subscribers in India and the number is growing fast.

Indian security agencies have been demanding access to all BlackBerry services as part of efforts to fight militancy and security threats over the Internet and through telephone communications.

Eight operators including Bharti, Vodafone, Idea, RCom, Tatas and also two state owned firms -- BSNL and MTNL -- are offering BlackBerry services across the country and it has emerged a popular service among corporates for its enterprise mail service.

RIM vice-president (Industry, Government and University Relations) Robert E Crow, had said, "There is no possibility of us providing any kind of a solution. There is no solution, there are no keys to be handed... It's not possible to do so because the keys of the service are in possession of the corporate enterprises."

However, the argument is not bought by the security establishment.