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India backs off from ban on BlackBerry services

Ministry of Home Affairs said RIM, the phones' Canadian maker, has agreed to an 'interim arrangement' for lawful interception of BlackBerry messenger services.

MUMBAI // India has followed the UAE in backing off from a threat to ban popular services on BlackBerry devices, amid growing global concern over access to encrypted information.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said yesterday that Research in Motion, the Canadian maker of the smart phones, has agreed to an interim arrangement for lawful interception of BlackBerry messenger services, an instant messaging application, and pledged to provide a final solution by January.

"Accordingly, the services will continue to be available," the ministry said in a statement.

India had threatened to ban corporate e-mail and messenger services by August because of 'national security concerns' if Research in Motion did not come up with a way for the government to monitor them. It then extended the deadline to October. It remains unclear what solution the parties may have reached over encrypted corporate e-mails.

RIM, whose competitive edge rests on ensuring security to its global users, has given no details of the possible concessions that led the UAE and India to back off from their deadlines for access.

The company said in a statement that it is optimistic about reaching a final solution with Indian regulators. RIM said it had not changed the security architecture for corporate e-mail and that it does not make special deals on access with individual countries.

India is now asking all companies that provide encrypted communications, not just RIM, to install servers in the country to make it easier for the government to obtain users' data. That could affect Google, the provider of the Gmail service, and the internet phone company Skype.

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