Aug 31, 2010 News
Finally a ray of hope for BlackBerry!!!
Yesterday, Research in Motion, the BlackBerry maker, has agreed to provide some technical solution to the Indian government. It has been learned that the solutions will allow the Indian security agencies to monitor the BlackBerry messenger and the enterprise services.
The government agencies will check out the effectiveness of the solutions for next 2 months and will give the feedback, on which the Government of India would decide the fate of BlackBerry in India by October 31. If this technical solution fails to satisfy the security requirement of the country, RIM may be asked to set its server for transferring the secured messages, in India.
It’s definitely a breathing moment for RIM, the 1.1 million BlackBerry users in India and the BlackBerry application developers world wide. However the question will again arise after two months if the technical solution is proved not up to the mark. Then again the government may ask the Canadian giant to allow full access of the encrypted messages of BlackBerry.
However there is no concrete details on the ‘technical solution’ provided to the Government of India by RIM, but the experts in the industry and media speculate that RIM has probably agreed to provide an internal tool with which the text and other information in the message can be tracked down. Earlier CNN-IBN has quoted the ‘highly placed sources in RIM’ and reported that a tool is under development to give easier and lawful access to the security agencies across the globe.
Despite of all the speculations by media and experts, the actual picture is almost the same regarding the deadlock situation between the Government of India and Research in Motion (RIM) over the security controversy with BlackBerry.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) of India has confirmed that the state is still rigid with their demand of the access of BlackBerry Messenger Services which RIM is not ready to provide. However discussions are going on between the two parties. The statement has further left the BlackBerry app developers in a dilemma.
Media reports have quoted senior DoT officials saying, “the government had given no explicit permission to start BlackBerry services in the country without setting up a server.”
“At present BlackBerry services are being provided by nine telecom service providers. The security agencies are unable to intercept and monitor BlackBerry services because of complex encrypted communication and non-availability of BlackBerry servers in India,” reports an internal note of the DoT.
However, CNN-IBN, the leading news channel demanded on August 13, of having a ‘confirmed news’ that RIM accepted the growing demands of the Government of India and many other security agencies world wide and would allow the lawful access of the encrypted messages to the security agencies through an ‘internal tool.’
The deadlock between the Govt. of India and Research in Motion (RIM) has got over with RIM stepping back to provide Indian national security agencies a lawful access to the encrypted message and the BlackBerry messenger services as well, reported by CNN-IBN.
The decision, from the Canada based telecom giant, came dramatically, hours after the Indian Government has announced that BlackBerry services will be blocked in India after 31st of August unless the national security agencies get a lawful access to the BlackBerry messages.
Indian government was demanding for the same on a ground of national security and increasing terrorism while RIM, so far, has kept on denying any access to any one. In fact, RIM earlier has announced that even they can’t access the encrypted messages as they are transmitted through a super-secured network. But after a continuous rejection from several countries & few financial institutes, now RIM has stepped back.
According to highly placed sources, the company has offered security agencies an already existing tool which allows them to access the plain text on encrypted BlackBerry messages. The company source has also informed the media that a tool is under development to give easier and lawful access to the security agencies across the globe.
However, BlackBerry is not setting up a server in India, according to CNN-IBN.
But would the security agencies bother much of not having a local server, if they can access the encrypted messages?
Earlier, RIM has skipped a crucial meeting with the the Government of India along with Vodafone and Airtel, the BlackBerry service providers in the country. But this time they had to step back.
Obviously RIM does not want to loose its market in India. However this decision has resulted in mixed reactions all over. BlackBerry app development industry must be very happy with it.
It’s worth a mention that now at least other governments & financial institutes in other parts of the world, like the EU Commission, Standard Chartered Bank, France, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Lebanon, Indonesia, Algeria etc., can also settle down with the newly found solution over the security concerns.
However, this was the least RIM could have done, after facing a dip in the share market and a tough competition from the rivals like Apple’s iPhone & Google’s Android.
Aug 9, 2010 News
Research In Motion is still trapped in a deadlock situation with several governments in different parts of the globe over the security issue with BlackBerry secured messaging. Experts hold different opinions to estimate the loss; but almost everyone is sure that RIM must fix up the issue as soon as possible. Otherwise it can affect the business of RIM and also the BlackBerry developers.
RIM is trying their best in the negotiation process with the authorities. It has been reported by Reuters that the Canadian giant has proposed to set up separate servers in Middle East (especially Saudi Arabia & U.A.E.). Though much details are not available, but the doubt remains the same. Without the master key of the network, how would it be helpful to decode malicious contents. Moreover, RIM itself has claimed that it does not hold any such key.
In another discussion with Govt. of India, RIM has proposed to provide the metadata of the messages. Technically the metadata is the data about a data, which means it can provide you the information about an encrypted message but not the content. The information may include the location of sender & receiver, size of the message etc.
News agencies have reported, quoting a source, that the governments are demanding for the uninterrupted access to the content of the messages, where as RIM is pursuing on the issue of limited and case wise (like lawsuit) access. However, no reports are available about the concern of the EU Commission or French Government.
The situation is still on fire, affecting the BlackBerry application development market to a great extent.
The problem continues for RIM and BlackBerry as well. The recent controversy over the security flaw with the once most popular Smartphone of the world is becoming costlier now for the Candian giant, RIM. 3 days back, we have told you that the controversy can affect the business of BlackBerry further. We have been proved correct with more news from Egypt, Indonesia, and Algeria considering the security issues related to BlackBerry operations. Reuter has reported that the Govt. there are reviewing the safety of BlackBerry and if required they may follow UAE & Saudi Arabia in blocking BlackBerry in their countries.
We like to remind you that apart from the Middle East, BlackBerry tasted a bitter shock from the French Govt. and European Union Commission who have decided not to use BlackBerry any more as their official communication device on the same security ground. The list goes lengthy with Standard Chartered, the British MNC bank, who took a similar step to replace BlackBerry for iPhone.
Indian Govt. is already in a reviewing process of the security loop holes of the device. Though it is yet to be correctly estimated the potential loss RIM is going to face, if BlackBerry is banned in India, Egypt, Algeria & Indonesia, but no doubt that the controversy is taking a toll on BlackBerry’s market share.
Shares of RIM has seen a dip of 4.46% on the Toronto Stock Exchange where as NASDAQ in New York has recorded a fall of 3.85% for RIM shares. Similar trend has been observed in London stock exchange too.
This year has been proved to be quite costly for RIM. When the device was facing a difficult hurdle from Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, the Security controversy, adverse reports against BlackBerry OS 6.0 & BlackBerry Torch have made it more difficult.
Engadget, a major tech product review site, has reported BlackBerry Torch to score 6/10 in their analysis. Eric Savitz, Wall Street tech guru, has recently said, “the new Smartphone has a slow processor, a small screen, and is not a game changer.”
In a nutshell, BlackBerry has quickly slipped away from the most popular PDA to 3rd place. Now, what does the whole episode mean for investors and BlackBerry app developers? It’s uncertainty. And what does business & stock markets hate most? Again, it’s uncertainty. Though it’s difficult to say at this point whether it would become a struggle for existence for RIM in near future; the BlackBerry app development industry should keep a close watch on the situation.