[ISN] Centre volte-face: no Blackberry security threat

From: InfoSec News <alerts_at_private>
Date: Thu, 3 Jul 2008 03:40:12 -0500 (CDT)

Corporate Bureau
The Financial Express
July 03, 2008

Almost seven months after asking telecom companies to stop providing the 
push mail Blackberry services on the grounds that it did not provide for 
legal interception, the department of telecommunications (DoT) did a 
complete turnaround on Wednesday stating that there were no security 
threat from the services.

Speaking to newspersons on the sidelines of an industry conference, DoT 
secretary, Siddhartha Behura, said, "There is no threat from Blackberry 
services." Interestingly, the DoT had earlier, on the advice of the home 
ministry pulled up companies like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, and 
Reliance Communications for starting the services without the 
government's prior approval. The three companies currently provide 
Blackberry services.

On the same grounds it had withheld permission to Tata Teleservices Ltd 
(TTSL) when it sought to start the services.

However, on Wednesday Behura said that, "there is no permission needed 
for starting value added services. We have not given permission to 
anybody, we have not disallowed anybody." However, he added that 
security agencies have raised certain issues and talks are on regarding 

His comments assumes significance because not only did the DoT write 
letters to TTSL for not starting the services without the provision for 
legal interception, it also held a series of meetings with telecom 
companies and the Canadian firm, Research In Motion (RIM), which 
provides the technology for Blackberry services, to provide a solution. 
The talks till date have, officially not produced any results.

Despite RIM's assurances to work with the mobile operators currently 
providing the service in the country, it has not yet been able to either 
provide a solution to the security agencies to be able to decode the 
content communicated on the device or shift the servers to the country 
so as to enable security agencies to monitor e-mails and other data.

The whole issue of legal interception and legality of the Blackberry 
services had come to light late last year when TTSL sought government's 
approval to start the services. When the matter, as per procedure was 
referred to the home ministry, it was discovered that service did not 
provide for legal interception.

On being denied permission, TTSL had written to DoT that since other 
operators were providing the services without fulfilling the 
requirements it should also be allowed to do so. DoT had sought to 
restrain it stating that non-compliance of instructions by any other 
operator cannot be a valid ground for...

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Received on Thu Jul 03 2008 - 01:40:12 PDT

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