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DoT Panel Seeks BlackBerry PIN Details For All Handsets Globally: Report

A government panel has recommended that BlackBerry should provide access to PIN details of all its handsets across the globe, in order to allow Indian Intelligence agencies in the country to track messages sent between Indian subscribers and Foreign subscribers, reports The Economic Times.

Citing a Department of Telecommunication (DoT) report, the report states that BlackBerry is already providing PIN details for all handsets shipped to India and has not provided details from other countries due to privacy and legal concerns. However, the panel apparently notes that agencies are able to track incoming and outgoing messages from BlackBerry users abroad to Indian subscribers if they have access to the PIN details of all the handsets globally.

Interestingly, the government panel has also apparently recommended that the government should take over the monitoring and interception facilities built by BlackBerry in Mumbai. BlackBerry had set up a server in Mumbai last April, to provide security agencies access to its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) services.

Besides that, the panel has recommended that BlackBerry should be mandated to provide access to the web-browsing facilities on its handsets on a readable (decrypted) format, allow Indian Intelligence agencies to track e-mail attachments on a real-time basis by April 2013 and provide a

Apart from that, it has also recommended that BlackBerry should provide access to the web-browsing facilities on its handsets on a readable (decrypted) format and allow intelligence agencies here to track e-mail attachments on a real-time basis. BlackBerry has stated that it has currently provided a temporary solution for agencies to track e-mail attachments and will be deploying a new solution by April 2013, as indicated by the report. It also added that BlackBerry will be providing a solution to allow Intelligence agencies determine the status of messages sent on BBM service.

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BlackBerry Disconnection on BSNL & MTNL

Meanwhile, a The Hindu Business Line report states that BlackBerry users on the state owned telcos BSNL and MTNL is liable for disconnection, since both the telcos haven’t complied with DoT’s security requirements yet.

 In October 2012, DoT had directed all telecom service providers to ensure that proper infrastructure for legal interception of BlackBerry services was in place by December 31, 2012. Telcos had previously asked DoT to extend the deadline for compliance to February 2013, which was rejected by the department.

While private telecom players like Vodafone, Airtel, among others have complied with the security requirements in the country, MTNL and BSNL had sought out more time to implement the infrastructure since it had to buy additional equipment to connect their network to the server and is currently going through a tendering process, as indicated by the report.

Previous Developments

In August 2012, reports had suggested that RIM has demonstrated an interception solution developed by a firm called Verint, which could intercept messages and emails exchanged between BlackBerry handsets. RIM had however dismissed these reports, stating that it had not provided access or encryption keys for its secure enterprise services to the Indian government.

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The company noted that it had instead offered a lawful access solution to the government which will help all telecom service providers in India to comply with the laws, but the solution doesn’t include secure BlackBerry enterprise communications.

RIM had also set up a server in Mumbai, India in February 2012, to provide security agencies access to its BlackBerry Messenger services, after a long-drawn battle with the Indian authorities. Before this, the Ministry of Communications had mentioned in December 2011, that the Indian security agencies were able to access BlackBerry services through the interception and monitoring facilities provided by the telecom service provider.

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