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'BlackBerry should comply with security rules or shut shop'

'BlackBerry should comply with security rules or shut shop'

The government has said that Research in Motion has to address India's security concerns or close down operations in the country.

New Delhi: Spelling trouble for over a million users of BlackBerry in India, Government has warned the Canadian service provider that if it does not allow facility to monitor emails and SMSes to address security concerns, it will have to close down operations in the country.

The government has said that the makers of BlackBerry - Research in Motion (RIM) - have to address its security concerns by offering the monitoring facility.

"If they don't follow our guidelines, we will have no option but to ask them to stop their operations in India," a senior official said.

The smartphone is used by over a million customers in India.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Department of Telecommunication to tell the popular smartphone company in no uncertain terms that its emails and other data services must comply with formats that can be monitored by security and intelligence agencies.

The MHA made it clear that RIM has been addressing security concerns of several other countries, including the United States, where it operates and therefore, there is no justification to not comply the same in India.

Government also wants a BlackBerry server in India but the company has been resisting the move. Once the server is in India, it will be easy to track the messages.

BlackBerry says the messages are encrypted. The smartphone's server is based in Canada where the encryption level is very high and extremely difficult to crack. And any message going through a Canada server is encrypted and therefore cannot be accessed by intelligence agencies in India.

There are reports that China has got a similar server in the country.

Senior officials of key security agencies at a recent meeting argued that the continuation of BlackBerry services in the present format poses danger to the country. The meeting was attended by representatives of the MHA, DoT, intelligence agencies and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO).

The latest development indicates that security agencies are again finding it difficult to intercept or decipher messages sent through these phones, which use codes with an encryption of 256 bits.

This encryption code first scrambles the emails sent from a BlackBerry device and unscrambles it when the message reaches its target.

Leading telecom companies in India such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, BSNL and MTNL offer BlackBerry services.