India meets for decision on BlackBerry ban
* Officials meeting ahead of Aug. 31 deadline for solution
* Could be extended if RIM has plan, needs more time-sources
* Any ban on BlackBerry services would be global first
By Bappa Majumdar
NEW DELHI, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Indian officials meet on Monday to decide whether to ban some of Research In Motion's RIM.TO BlackBerry services, a day before the deadline runs out for the firm to give security agencies access to its secure data.
Government sources have said the Aug. 31 deadline could be extended if Research In Motion RIMM.O says it has a solution to allowing monitoring of emails and asks for more time to avoid disruption of its services in the world's fastest-growing mobile phone market.
Monday's meeting will consider a technical report prepared after two days of talks last week between RIM officials and Indian security agencies. The report, sources said, contains some suggestions on how a secure email on BlackBerry may be accessed.
"A final decision will be taken after considering all aspects and national security interests," a source in the interior ministry told Reuters. The outcome of the meeting may not be announced on Monday. The sources asked not to be identified because they were not authorised to talk to the media.
The meeting is due to start at 5 p.m. local (1130 GMT).
India says it wants the means to fully track and read BlackBerry's secure email and instant messaging services that officials fear could be misused by militants.
India could become the first country to ban the services, even though several governments have raised concerns about the popular device over activities from terrorism to peddling pornography. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ For a Q+A on BlackBerry's security, click [ID:nN12132220]
For a graphic, click: link.reuters.com/ryr37n
For a FACTBOX on BlackBerry's problems in India, click, [ID:nSGE67P0AR]
For SCENARIOS in case India bans BlackBerry, click [ID:nSGE67T08D] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>
Saudi Arabia, fretful over online services like pornography, has reached a deal with RIM on the messenger service, a consumer product outside of the secure corporate domain. India too has reached a deal till November on Messenger service, according to government sources.
Such concerns have also been raised by Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, with the latter giving RIM an Oct. 11 deadline.
Analysts see no easy fix to the standoff as RIM says it has no way of intercepting the data that countries want access to. RIM has denied media reports that say it provided unique wireless services or access to any one country. [ID:nWEN8334]
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. (Writing by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Lincoln Feast)