SINGAPORE Aug 13 India may shut down Google
(GOOG.O) and Skype Internet-based messaging services over
security concerns, the Financial Times reported on Friday, as
the government threatened a similar crackdown on BlackBerry
The Financial Times quoted from the minutes of a July 12
meeting between telecommunication ministry security officials
and operator associations to look at possible solutions to
"intercept and monitor" encrypted communications.
"There was consensus that there [is] more than one type of
service for which solutions are to be explored. Some of them
are BlackBerry, Skype, Google etc," according to the
department's minutes. "It was decided first to undertake the
issue of BlackBerry and then the other services."
On Thursday, the Indian government became the latest of
several nations that have threatened to cut off Research In
Motion's RIM.TO RIMM.O encrypted BlackBerry email and
instant messaging services if the Canadian company does not
address national security concerns. [nSGE67B09R]
India has set an Aug 31. deadline for RIM. It wants access
in a readable format to encrypted BlackBerry communication, on
grounds it could be used by militants. Pakistani-based
militants used mobile and satellite phones in the 2008 Mumbai
attacks that killed 166 people.
For a TAKE-A-LOOK on BlackBerry, click [nSGE67B0KN
For a Q+A on BlackBerry's security, click [nN12132220]
Graphic on the BlackBerry encryption system:
India's demands follow a deal with Saudi Arabia, where a
source said Research In Motion agreed to give authorities codes
for BlackBerry Messenger users. The United Arab Emirates,
Lebanon and Algeria also seek access.
Officials say RIM had proposed tracking emails without
sharing encryption details, but that was not enough.
The Financial Times report said representatives from two of
the telecom operator associations present confirmed the details
of the meeting earlier this month.
"At the last security meeting, the agencies were talking
about BlackBerry. They were also coming out heavily on Skype
and Google," said Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet
Service Providers Association of India.
A shutdown would affect one million users in India out of
the smartphone's 41 million users. India is one of RIM's
fastest growing markets.
RIM, unlike rivals Nokia NOK1V.HE and Apple APPL.O,
operates its own network through secure servers located in
Canada and other countries, such as Britain.
RIM's shares ended more than 2 percent lower at C$56.44 in
the Toronto market.
In a matter of a few weeks, the BlackBerry device -- long
the darling of the world's CEOs and politicians, including U.S.
President Barack Obama -- has become a target for its sealed
email and messaging services with governments around the
(Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Dhara Ranasinghe)