India holds crunch BlackBerry meeting
NEW DELHI: India was set for last-ditch talks with the Canadian makers of BlackBerry on Monday in a bid to settle a security standoff that could see key features of the popular smartphone shut down this week.
G.K. Pillai, the top home ministry bureaucrat, was slated to meet with the key figures amid suggestions the government might give BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) more time to satisfy its demands.
"They will all be at the meeting-people from the home ministry, RIM people, telecom ministry and the security agencies," a home ministry official told AFP.
India threatened earlier this month it would ban messages sent on smartphones unless the company came up with a way for security agencies to decode the heavily encrypted traffic by August 31.
India, which struggles with a host of home-grown insurgencies and threats from terror groups based in neighbouring Pakistan, is worried that BlackBerry phones could be used by militants.
The planned meeting late Monday follows weeks of talks between RIM and the government on ways monitoring could work without the firm abandoning its public commitment not to directly aid governments in decoding its messages. Analysts say RIM's commercial success has been partly due to its gold-plated data protection reputation.
At the same time, analysts have noted other security-conscious nations such as China and Russia appear to be satisfied that their intelligence agencies' have sufficient access to BlackBerry communications. There have been indications the deadline might be pushed back beyond Tuesday's cut-off date as RIM scrambles to satisfy Indian authorities. "Everything is possible. If they say we have a solution and ask for time, then we will see," one unnamed government official said late last week. -Reuters