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Blackberry makers to resist pressure from foreign governments

Under pressure from countries like India and UAE to provide access to its customers' messages, the Canadian company which makes Blackberry today made it clear that it will not allow such a thing to happen as it would "imperil the firm's relationship with customers."

world Updated: Aug 04, 2010 22:33 IST

Under pressure from countries like India and UAE to provide access to its customers' messages, the Canadian company which makes Blackberry on Wednesday made it clear that it will not allow such a thing to happen as it would "imperil the firm's relationship with customers."

"We are not going to compromise that That is what has made BlackBerry the No 1 solution worldwide," Mike Lazaridis, founder and co chief executive of RIM, told The New York Times.

His comments came as Indian security agencies demanded that Blackberry allow them to monitor its services.

It also comes close on the heels of Saudi Arabia ordering local cellphone providers to halt BlackBerry service, saying it failed to meet regulatory requirements. Dubai will ban some of the Blackberry services from October 1.

He said allowing governments to monitor messages shuttling across the Blackberry network could endanger the company's relationships with its customers, which include major companies and law enforcement agencies.

Lazaridis denied reports that the company had already granted special concessions to the governments of countries like India and China, which have large numbers of BlackBerry owners.

"That's absolutely ridiculous and patently false," he said.

He said the encryption that was causing alarm among foreign governments was used for many other purposes, including E-commerce transactions, teleconferencing and electronic money transfers.

"If you were to ban strong encryption, you would shut down corporations, business, commerce, banking and the Internet," he said.

"Effectively, you'd shut it all down. That's not likely going to happen," he told the Times.

There are about a million users of BlackBerry services in India at present. The security agencies in India apprehended that BlackBerry services in the present format posed a serious security threat.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had warned RIM that it would ban BlackBerry's operations if the security concerns were not addressed.

In view of technical problems involved in accessing the data, the government has been pushing the service provider to set up a BlackBerry server in India so that its services can be easily monitored by security agencies in an emergency.