Blackberry gets 60-day India ban reprieve

Mobile phone store in Kolkata India is seen as a growth market for smartphone and mobile devices

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India has said it will delay a ban on Blackberry devices for 60 days while it reviews proposals from the gadget's maker, Research in Motion (RIM).

A ban had been threatened from Tuesday, as India said its security services needed greater access to encrypted services.

It wants the ability to monitor secure e-mail and instant messaging services provided by the firm.

RIM has said it will support the country's need for "lawful access".

But it maintains that it does not do "specific deals" with countries.

The firm said earlier that it had offered to "lead an industry forum focused on supporting the lawful access needs of law enforcement agencies".

It said that the forum - which would include other telecoms firms - would work with the Indian government to develop "policies and processes aimed at preventing the misuse of strong encryption technologies".

Scramble

India, along with many other countries, believes the device and the Blackberry infrastructure used by business customers are a threat to national security.

The country fears the device could be used by militants and insurgents in a repeat of the 2008 attack on Mumbai that left 166 people dead.

Blackberry handsets automatically scramble messages and send them to servers in Canada and other countries.

Authorities have said they want access to these messages and the keys to decrypt them in order to counter terrorism and criminal activity.

But RIM has said that it "does not possess a 'master key', nor does any 'back door' exist in the system that would allow RIM or any third party, under any circumstances, to gain access to encrypted corporate information".

It said that "singling out and banning" Blackberry would be "ineffective and counter-productive" as many other networks used similar encryption techniques.

The firm said finding a solution to meet the needs of governments and prevent the misuse of encryption was an industry-wide problem.

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