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Blackberry services under scanner

The Govt issues a stern warning to telecom cos to put the security system in place in 15 days or stop services due to security lapses.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2008 15:04 IST

Having come under scanner for security lapses in the use of Blackberry services, the government has issued a stern warning to telecom companies to put the required security system in place within 15 days or stop the services.

The directive has been issued to the respective service providers to work out with officials of Blackberry licensor Research in Motion (RIM) of Canada to provide full-proof security system in the country, senior officials in the Department of Telecom (DoT) said.

If the services were stopped, over four lakh users of Blackberry would not be able to use this premium service which enables users to access e-mail in the form of SMS.

The DoT Secretary had recently said that the government was keen to resolve the matter at the earliest.

When contacted RIM, licensor of Blackberry services, spokesperson told PTI that RIM operates in more than 130 countries around the world and respects the regulatory requirements of governments. RIM does not comment on confidential regulatory matters or speculation on such matters in any given country.

Telecom Minister A Raja had also said that security of nation was of paramount concern and this would not be sacrificed at any cost.

C-DoT, a technical wing of DoT, has the monitoring capabilities provided the licensor puts the server in India enabling interception of contents of e-mails, if required, on the Blackberry handsets.

Currently, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Essar, BPL Mobile and Reliance Communications are offering this premium service. According to sources, most of the high-end users of these companies have shifted to Blackberry services.

The controversy over Blackberry service came to public after Tata Teleservices was denied the permission to offer this value-added services by the Ministry of Home Affairs saying there was no provision of lawful interception in the services.
Tatas had said that there should be a level playing field.

Sources in the DoT said that Tata's application for permission to launch Blackberry services was still pending and may not be cleared till the matter was resolved. It also pointed out that DoT must verify whether the existing service providers took government's permission to start services or they started on their own. There should be a proper investigation in the entire matter.

When contacted, the operators said they were not aware of any such directive from the government to put the required security system in place or any action to be taken against them by the government.