RIM Denies Giving Indian Government Access To BlackBerry Emails


Research In Motion is refuting reports from India that suggest it has armed the Indian government with the ability to access enterprise emails sent using BlackBerry smartphones.

The reports being denied surfaced Thursday from Indian media outlets such as the Economic Times, which claimed the four-year kerfuffle between the Indian government and RIM "is finally set to end," alleging that the Waterloo, Ontario-based company had finally succumbed to the government’s request for encryption keys that would enable it to read BlackBerry enterprise emails in real time.

RIM, in an emailed statement to CRN, said the report was "misleading," and denied having supplied the keys.

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"RIM has found it necessary to correct some false and misleading information appearing in the media in India and would like to take an opportunity to set the record straight," the BlackBerry maker said in the statement.

"RIM is providing an appropriate lawful access solution that enables India's telecom operators to be legally compliant with respect to their BlackBerry consumer traffic, to the same degree as other smartphone providers in India, but this does not extend to secure BlackBerry enterprise communications," the company continued.

The Economic Times, however, alleged that the solution RIM provided last year to allow Indian government officials access to consumer-oriented BlackBerry Messenger traffic, does, in fact, allow for the monitoring of enterprise traffic as well.

"Correspondence reviewed by [Ecomonic Times] ... shows that the solution demonstrated by RIM can intercept all BlackBerry services," the Economic Times wrote Thursday.

RIM refuted this claim.

"As we have stated on several occasions, and as we have set out in our company’s Lawful Access Principles, RIM cannot access information encrypted through BlackBerry Enterprise Server as RIM is not ever in possession of the encryption keys," the company said in its emailed statement.

RIM's comment Thursday marks the most recent in its series of reiterations that access to BlackBerry enterprise services and messages is technologically infeasible. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server, the software foundation on which all BlackBerry enterprise phones run, does not allow for either RIM or any third party to access this encrypted information, the company has said. The only party that does have access to this enterprise content, RIM has claimed, is the corporate users themselves.

RIM for years has struggled to reach agreements with India and various Middle Eastern countries, which have pushed for access to BlackBerry enterprise messages in an effort to thwart potential terrorist attacks.

PUBLISHED AUG. 2, 2012