RIM buckles on India's Blackberry encryption pressure

Research in Motion has bowed to the Indian government at last. It told the home ministry that it will comply with the 31 January deadline to provide a “final solution” – you what!? – for lawful access to its data services.

This will be done by giving ministers access to the records over a cloud based system which will not involve an “overseas data path.”

“We are happy to confirm that as per the compliance schedule agreed by both Research in Motion and the Ministry Of Home Affairs , RIM infrastructure is ready to receive and process via the cloud computing based system, lawfully intercepted BlackBerry messenger data from India service providers,”  Robert E Crow , vice president of industry, government and university relations at RIM, told the home ministry in a statement obtained by the Economic Times.

The agreement should put a stop to bickering between the two, which has been raging since earlier this year when India threatened to ban Blackberry services – citing that it didn’t have control over the data being sent to and from users.

The ministry’s reasoning for snooping was, as usual, potential terrorist threats. A terrorist could use BlackBerry email and messaging services to coordinate and plot attacks as information exchanged on these channels couldn’t be monitored at the time.

After reinstating services the government ordered RIM to come up with something that would give intelligence agencies complete access to all services offered on its handsets by October. This would include RIM being forced to hand over the encryption keys and codes of its corporate mail and messaging services. The extension to January 2011 was given after RIM pushed for a timeframe of 23 weeks in August, while it worked out how to cooperate without breaching data protection laws.

Corporate secrets have a way of “being leaked” – see Radia, A Raja – so we’re waiting with baited breath to see how India looks after encrypted data.

Only yesterday we reported that some key Department of Telecommunication (DoT) officials might face arrest for the alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum scam, which has been raging since 2008 and has led to leaked tapes doing the rounds.

Meanwhile Google has denied India access to Gmail citing privacy  concerns.