Blackberry has agreed to settle a three-year-old controversy and give the Indian government technology to intercept messages sent and received by its customers, settling a fight that saw India threaten to ban the Canadian tech company's products.
Indian government officials said following the deadly Mumbai attacks that they needed a way to decrypt and access Blackberry messages to thwart would-be terrorists. When BlackBerry, then known as Research in Motion, said it didn't have the technology to hack into private emails, India said it would simply oust the company from the fast-growing market.
Blackberry and India reached a compromise over business email. The Times of India reports Blackberry will merely tell the government which companies use its corporate emailing services.
Under the compromise, India will be able to:
* track email and attachments sent over Blackberry's Internet service.
* view when chats sent via Blackberry Messenger were delivered and read.
* access the websites visited by the user.
The compromise comes as India introduces a so-called Centralized Monitoring System to monitor phone calls. The New York Times reports the program will purportedly better safeguard citizens’ privacy by cutting out telecommunications companies, which can be sources of privacy leaks. It will also ensure that each interception request is tracked and the recorded information destroyed within six months as is required under the law.
Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at The Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead