After BlackBerry, Others Could Come Under Security Scanner

The BlackBerry saga has been going on for about 3 years now. And even though the likes of Google, Skype and VPN providers have been named by the security establishment – it has mainly been a sideshow or a no-show. BlackBerry makes RIM has maintained that it should not be singled out, but so far it seemed like that was the case. The DoT/Home Ministry remained adamant about having access to the company’s corporate email services and asked telcos to either ask for access or stop working with the Canadian company. It seemed like they were on a collision course.

But RIM slightly altered its tone this week. A story filed by ET this week, quotes the company as saying that is ‘appreciates’ the priority India places on national security and that it would be willing to work with Government to discuss Industry wide policy changes. We do know that the DoT is working on a snooping law.

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In its customer update, it went on to state that other companies are likely to face the same pressure too – naming the likes of Apple, Cisco, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Nokia and privately held Good Technology. It said that all these companies used encryption in India. In another report the names of Samsung and Sony Ericsson appeared as well. Senior Government officials have apparently assured RIM that it would not be singled out and the policy will be applied to all companies that use encryption. So is it likely that we’ll have a number simultaneous ‘sagas’ in the months to come? RIM also accused competitors of trying to profit from its troubles by hinting to customers that their enterprise services will escape scrutiny despite using end-to-end encryption.

So there has been no real development since the Home Ministry asked telcos to get tough with RIM. But the company’s statements do indicate that they won’t be the only ones pressed for access. As I mentioned, names of Google, Skype have come up in the past. Nokia has already set up a server in India – one of the demands of the security establishment. But no other company has been pursued with the same ‘interest’. And with RIM clearly stating that there is no way to provide access to its enterprise services, where this will go is anyone’s guess. To top it off, we could be looking at more companies getting involved in a tussle.

What do you think will happen?

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