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No country-specific deals on allowing access: BlackBerry maker

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Research In Motion, the maker of BlackBerry devices, said that it does not do country-specific deals on allowing access to its network. The Canadian firm also said that it did not have the ability to provide its customer encryption keys to any agency.

This comes after reports said that the handset maker had signed an agreement with Indian security agencies to allow access to data flowing through its network. The reports were based on alleged Government documents uploaded on the Internet by hackers that claimed that RIM, Nokia and Apple had signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect.

“RIM maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries,” the BlackBerry maker said.

“No changes to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers since, contrary to any rumours, the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys,” it added.

Finnish handset maker Nokia said that it takes the privacy of customers and their data seriously and it is committed to comply with all applicable data protection and privacy laws.

The alleged documents, if they are real, indicate that the smartphone giants gave the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Indian military intelligence tools that would let the Indian agencies read encrypted e-mails sent to and from RIM's BlackBerrys, Apple's iPhones and Nokia smartphones.

For the past two years, Indian security agencies have been asking RIM for giving access to the data flowing through its network. The Home Ministry had also set a deadline for the company to hand over the encryption codes that will enable agencies to snoop.

RIM, however, has so far refused to comply on grounds that it was technically not possible. The Government had set up a committee to work out fresh guidelines that would address security agencies' concerns but at the same time be mindful of handset makers' limitations.

tkt@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 10, 2012)
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