(AFP) – May 27, 2008
NEW DELHI (AFP) — The Canadian maker of BlackBerry, embroiled in a security row with the Indian government, has told customers it is committed to ensuring their emails are safe from snoopers.
The statement received by AFP on Tuesday followed Indian media reports that Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of the highly popular device, might allow the Indian government access to messages sent using a BlackBerry.
India, battling a host of insurgencies from Muslim-majority Kashmir to the far-flung northeast, has raised fears the cellular device could be used by terrorists to communicate.
RIM said it wished to assure customers it was committed to "serving security-conscious businesses in the Indian market with highly secure" products and rejected what it said was incorrect speculation.
The Indian media reports said India's government wanted "the master key" to allow them access to emails sent between BlackBerry devices.
But RIM said no "master key" existed.
"It is not a question of withholding something," BlackBerry spokesman Satchit Gayakwad told AFP.
RIM does not possess a "master key" to gain "unauthorised access" to data and there is no "back door" in the system that would allow RIM or any third party to gain access, the company statement said.
BlackBerry's security system is based on "a key system whereby the customer creates their own key and only the customer ever possesses a copy of their encryption key," RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, said.
At the same time, "governments have a wide range of resources and methodologies to satisfy national security and law enforcement needs without compromising commercial security requirements," RIM said.
"There are some ways government can take care of security concerns," the RIM spokesman said, adding other "security-conscious countries (where BlackBerry services operate) are working around this problem."
He declined to elaborate. RIM operates in over 135 countries.
RIM and the Indian government have held talks about New Delhi's security concerns. The RIM spokesman would not comment on the discussions except to say "we look forward to something positive" emerging.
India's telecommunications secretary Siddhartha Behura said earlier this month New Delhi was not considering banning BlackBerry services "at this point" and was keen for RIM to continue operations in the country.
At the same time, India wanted BlackBerry to furnish "satisfactory answers" to its security concerns, he said.
Indian security agencies have said they fear the BlackBerry poses a security threat because of difficulty intercepting and tracing emails sent with the device.
The row triggered sharp comments by Canada's High Commissioner to India David Malone in a letter last month to the Indian government, according to Indian media reports.
"Potential terrorists are now aware of technical issues unknown to most of us previously," Malone said in the letter.
An official of Canada's High Commission in New Delhi said, "We cannot comment on government-to-government communications."
Industry estimates say there are some 400,000 Blackberry users in India's mobile market, the world's fastest growing.
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