No deal with Indian authorities – RIM

Research In Motion has not agreed to turn over corporate data sent to and from BlackBerry devices to the Indian government, contrary to reports that surfaced on Wednesday, RIM said.

“RIM has once again found it necessary to address certain media reports in India containing inaccurate and misleading statements and information based on unsubstantiated claims from unnamed sources,” it said in a statement.

The statement follows a report in Mint, an online Indian business news site, that was picked up widely. Citing unnamed government officials, the report said that RIM had agreed to provide recorded data from BlackBerry Enterprise Servers to the Indian government and was working on a way to offer live access to the data to the government.

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RIM confirmed that it continues to talk with the government in India and said that such talks revolve around four principles that RIM follows in providing carriers with the capabilities necessary to allow for lawful access to customer data. Those include that the carriers’ capabilities be limited strictly to the context of access governed by the country’s law and that the carriers must also allow only the same amount of access to BlackBerry consumer services as to RIM’s competitors.

RIM also insists that it will make no changes to the security architecture for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which enterprises install to serve corporate data to mobile workers. Some speculation has suggested that RIM might offer encryption keys to government bodies, allowing them to access corporate data sent through the BES. But RIM reiterated that it “truly has no ability to provide its customers’ encryption keys.”

The company also said that it has a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements and it does not make special deals in specific countries.

“Once again, our discussions with the Government in India have been and continue to be productive and we fully expect the matter to be satisfactorily resolved,” it said.

RIM has been working for months in an effort to comply with demands from the Indian government that it turn over customer data to law enforcement officials. The demand puts RIM in a difficult position. If it doesn’t comply, the Indian government has threatened to block its service. If it does comply, it risks alienating customers around the world that are drawn to RIM because it has offered a secure service for enterprises.

RIM ran into similar problems in Saudi Arabia recently as well. It appears to have agreed to allow government monitoring of e-mail and instant messaging services provided by operators to users there.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy’s e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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