From the Security Experts

August 13, 2010

India Cracks Down on BlackBerry, Skype and Google

By Senior Editor

Security concerns with BlackBerrys are prompting government officials in India to ask Skype and Google for better access to encrypted information, the Associated Press reports.

BlackBerrys are now under threat of a ban, according to a government document and two people familiar with the discussions, the AP said.

“Earlier this summer officials from India’s Department of Telecommunications met with representatives of three telecom service provider groups to discuss interception and monitoring of encrypted communications by security agencies,” the report said.

However, the immediate concern is with the BlackBerry – the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai were coordinated with satellite and cell phones. In fact, officials will have an overhaul and security review of telecommunications ahead of the Commonwealth Games, to be held in New Delhi in October, the AP said.

Although, so far, Google and Skype both told the AP they have not yet received any notices from the government.

“’The officials’ more immediate concern is the BlackBerry, but they also plan to look at Google and other companies that use encryption for e-mail and messaging services,’ said Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India, who was briefed on the meeting.”

According to several reports, India threatened to ban BlackBerry services unless the device’s manufacturer – Research in Motion – makes them accessible to its security agencies by Aug. 31.

The AP reported that Research In Motion Vice President Robert E. Crowe met with Home Ministry officials in New Delhi to try to avoid the ban. However, no details of the outcome of the meeting  have yet been released.

Erin Harrison is a senior editor with TMCnet, primarily covering telecom expense management, politics and technology and Web 2.0. She serves as senior editor for TMC's print publications, including "Internet Telephony", "Customer Interaction Solutions", "Unified Communications" and "NGN" magazines. Erin also oversees production of TMCnet's weekly iPhone e-Newsletter. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison