India Upset With RIM Because Solution To Spy On Emails Doesn't Work Well

from the time-to-stop-using-your-blackberry dept

A couple years ago, the Indian government started demanding that RIM give them a backdoor to read encrypted Blackberry email messages. At the time, RIM insisted that was technically impossible due to end-user encryption (something that's been called into question due to RIM's agreements with other countries, such as Saudi Arabia). A few months after that exchange, India announced that it didn't matter any more because it had cracked the encryption, and could spy on messages at will.

So it seemed a bit odd when India again demanded access to RIM Blackberry messages, leading to a standoff where RIM eventually "backed down" and offered to help India spy on users. However, the Indian government is now complaining that the solution doesn't let them spy enough:
The telecom department has rejected the interception solution offered by Canada's (RIM) for its secure corporate email service. What's more is that it has spurned RIM's technical solution for decoding all chat communication on the popular BlackBerry Messenger service...

In an internal note, dated September 28, reviewed by ET, the telecom department's security wing claims security agencies have been unable to intercept or monitor secure email communication made through the (BES) in readable format. "RIM maintains that it does not have the keys that can be offered to security agencies for converting secure corporate email into readable format," said a senior DoT official with direct knowledge of the matter. The DoT internal note claims law enforcement agencies have failed to intercept chats on the BlackBerry Messenger platform, which runs counters to the home ministry's recent position that it is satisfied with the interception solution offered by RIM.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like RIM is still sticking to the fact that, thanks to end-user encryption, it simply can't reveal the message contents -- but it sounds like it agreed to offer access to other information, which the Indian government feels is not enough. Of course, for all of India's rather public admission that it wants to spy on all sorts of communications, it doesn't seem to recognize that it's scaring companies away from doing business in India, as the threat of having communications spied upon is too big a risk.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2010 @ 4:21am


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2010 @ 5:18am


    Even the most moronic bureaucrat should be aware that there are any number of ways of transferring secret messages between any two internet-connected points. Many encryption techniques have been invented. More could be created with almost no effort. Decryption by unauthorised persons, not in possession of the necessary keys, or knowledge of the algorithm, is for all practical purposes impossible. The Indian bureaucrats have apparently just discovered that for themselves. Denying business an internet connection is not practical. So the secret message genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

    The bureaucrats should stop wasting their time trying to perform the impossible and get back to good old fashioned police work. There are any number of bad guys operating brazenly in public. If the bureaucrats really do want to reduce criminality, the problem is the lack of will, not the lack of information.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    007, Oct 1st, 2010 @ 5:56am

    Re: Moronic

    Agreed, & so does Miss Moneypenny.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Mike C. (profile), Oct 1st, 2010 @ 6:40am


    I deal with insurance data at my job and some of that is medical related (i.e. worker's compensation). A few of the companies we deal with have outsourced some of their data entry to firms in India. If the Indian government is monitoring all data going in and out of the country, couldn't that possibly be a HIPAA violation for a US based firm?

    /just curious

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Overcast (profile), Oct 1st, 2010 @ 7:39am

    couldn't that possibly be a HIPAA violation for a US based firm?

    Governments usually don't let laws get in their way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2010 @ 7:56am

    I am from America. I have the same advice for India as I do for China. Frak you and your entire system. Why should I support such abuses of human rights. India sucks. It's a dirty disgusting place rampant with disease and poverty, the same as China. China just made all the poor people move so we can't see them. Neither one of these countries give a damn about America except to steal from us. So who cares if the tech they ripped off doesn't work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 1st, 2010 @ 3:27pm

    Note To Governments

    At what point do bureaucrats think it became OK for democratic governments to brazenly invade our privacy, and have default access to all communication?

    For those spooks reading, it never became OK. Stop it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    mhenriday (profile), Oct 2nd, 2010 @ 9:39am

    @ an anonymous coward from the USA

    You don't seem to have been doing your homework - or perhaps, since the news is all of two months old, you've simply forgotten that your government wants to allow the FBI to compel internet providers to turn over records of an individual's internet activity without a court order ( ). Can it be that like many in your country, you are more concerned with the mote in your neighbour's eye than the beam in your own ? As for tech being ripped off, how much, for example, do you pay the Chinese everytime you wipe yourself after defecation ? Both paper and more specifically, toilet paper are Chinese inventions.... Henri

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Pete Braven (profile), Oct 3rd, 2010 @ 7:54am

    Re: Moronic

    GCHQ, FBI and NSA have all dabbled with this and frankly, I doubt they could collectively butter toast without an instruction manual!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Christopher (profile), Oct 3rd, 2010 @ 9:57pm

    Re: @ an anonymous coward from the USA

    No, they aren't. Paper and toilet paper are respectively, Egyptian and American inventions. The latter created by Americans for better cleanliness in the 1800's.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    mirradric, Oct 4th, 2010 @ 4:39am

    Re: Re: @ an anonymous coward from the USA

    I believe that the paper invented by the Egyptians you are referring to is the papyrus. Papyrus is actually very different from paper and have very different characteristics.
    Papyrus is made using the strips of the papyrus plant making it less pliable while paper is made from cellulose pulp (rather than individual strips) making it more pliable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 9:42am

    My e-mail is copyright myself, and protected with DRM. If they want to read it they should buy a license from me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    neurojava, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 4:03pm


    And let me guess, you are a gigantic, fat, corn fed, stupid ignoramous whose understanding of the world complexity ends in your front lawn:)


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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