The Department of Telecom has asked mobile companies to enable monitoring of BlackBerry traffic by December 31 or shut down services.

While the Canada-based Research In Motion, the maker of BlackBerry devices, have given a solution to monitor most of its services, the operators are required to connect to this system. In addition, operators need to collect the server identity of each subscriber to enable security agencies directly intercept traffic on BlackBerry Enterprise Service.

The issue of intercepting BlackBerry services has been hanging fire for over two years.

RIM essentially offers three basic types of services including the BlackBerry Internet Service, which is essentially for Web browsing, and the BlackBerry Messenger, which is the chat application. RIM has set up a system in Mumbai to enable security agencies monitor data flowing through these two services. Operators have been told to connect to this system and test lawful interception capabilities to security agencies. But many operators are falling back on the schedule which has forced the DoT to set the December deadline.

In addition to the two services, there is a third service called BlackBerry Enterprise Service, which is the e-mail client. As RIM has expressed inability to give a technical solution to monitor this service, the security agencies will have to track each and every server set up by corporates for using this service.

For this, the agencies need the server identity (technically called Server Routing Protocol) linked to each device given by the operator at the time of activating the connection.

The DoT has told operators to put the details of the server identity on customer acquisition forms at the time of giving a connection. This can then be used by security agencies to snoop directly into specific servers servicing a particular subscriber.

“BlackBerry Interception Solution shall be deployed and offered for testing to the respective Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring Cells (monitoring wing of the DoT) on or before December 31, in such a manner that the services can be intercepted in a readable format. Failing the successful demonstration, the BlackBerry Services shall be restrained to be offered to subscribers from January 1, 2013,” said an internal DoT note seen by Business Line.

Thomas.thomas@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 7, 2012)
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