* India to allow BlackBerry messenger beyond Aug.31 -source
* Uncertainty remains over BlackBerry email
* Security concerns force govt to push for access to emails
* Asks operators for monitoring system by Aug 31
(Recasts with government source comment)
By Devidutta Tripathy and Bappa Majumdar
NEW DELHI, Aug 17 India will allow BlackBerry's
messenger service to continue beyond an Aug. 31 deadline, but
could shut down its secure email service if access is not given
to its encrypted data by then, a senior government source said.
A technical team from Research In Motion RIM.TO RIMM.O
began discussions with India's telecommunications ministry and
intelligence agencies on Tuesday, the source said, seeking to
address security worries over some of BlackBerry's services.
"Discussions have started today. They will continue this
week and whole of next week. Discussions are on both the
services," said the source on condition of anonymity.
The government expects some sort of technical solution from
RIM to emerge during the discussions, he said.
When asked if BlackBerry would be allowed to operate after
Aug. 31, he said: "BlackBerry services, including phone, SMS and
Messenger will run, not sure about enterprise mail."
Research In Motion RIM.TO RIMM.O has assured India of
manual access to BlackBerry instant messages by Sept. 1, and
automated access by year-end. They are yet to get assurances for
its more secure corporate email, sources said.
Also on Tuesday, at least three mobile operators confirmed
they received letters from the Department of Telecommunications
giving them a deadline to put in place monitoring capability for
BlackBerry Messenger and secured Enterprise email services.
"We have received a letter ... asking us to ensure that
legal intervention capability is put in place for BlackBerry
services by 31 August 2010," a statement from operator Tata
Teleservices [TATASL.UL] said. [ID:nSGE67F0KO].
New Delhi says it will shut down BlackBerry services if RIM
does not allow access to its messaging or secured email,
threatening its future in the world's fastest-growing telecoms
For a Q+A on BlackBerry's security, click [ID:nN12132220]
India is one of a number of countries putting pressure on
RIM, which has built the reputation of the BlackBerry, popular
with business professionals and politicians, around
Governments such as Saudi Arabia's fear it could become a
tool for militants to plan attacks or for those breaking Islamic
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.
"The onus is on service providers to ensure that they have
some sort of interception mechanism in place before the deadline
ends," a senior Interior security official told Reuters.
"It is binding upon them and the DoT (Department of
Telecommunications), which is the nodal agency, will ensure that
it is followed strictly, in the interest of national security."
A source at one of India's biggest telecom operators said
the government wanted a "suitable interception and monitoring"
solution in readable format for the law enforcement agencies.
According to a government source, RIM has already assured
India of limited access to BlackBerry instant messages by Sept.
RIM has lost more than 11 percent of market capitalisation
since the beginning of August, when governments in Saudi Arabia
and the United Arab Emirates said they would also consider a
(Writing by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Rina Chandran and