India Ends Blackberry Ban

by Matt Klassen on November 2, 2010

Having to endure months of sabre rattling, threats, and fear mongering, Research in Motion finally got some good news this past weekend: India has rescinded its much publicized threat to ban RIM’s Blackberry over security concerns.           

While details about the agreement between the Canadian mobile company and the Indian government were not revealed, one can be sure that RIM gave the government anything and everything it wanted in an effort to retain a spot in one of the largest burgeoning smartphone markets in the world.

But we’ve heard this story before. India has previously claimed to have reached an agreement with RIM only to have the country’s telecommunications security department rescind the agreement and renew its threat to ban the Blackberry because of its highly secure encryption codes. So have we heard the last of the worldwide Blackberry security issue? Let’s hope so, for all our sakes.

For those that may have missed the ongoing trials and tribulations of Research in Motion over the past few months, it all started back in July when the United Arab Emirates first threatened to impose an embargo on RIM products due to the fact that national security agencies couldn’t monitor the Blackberry email traffic. In early August UAE gained some company in the stand against too much security, as India joined the list of RIM haters.

From there it’s been an up-and-down few months, as India has alternatively claimed to have reached a deal with RIM only to deny it days later and repeatedly requested the encryption key for Blackberry’s ultra-secure email service, which RIM has stated ad nauseam that it doesn’t have.

But with many things going wrong for the Blackberry maker, perhaps reaching an agreement with the UAE back in October and now finding some common ground with India is evidence that a new page is turning for RIM; the start of something better.

For many in the Indian media this whole ordeal over the Blackberry ban has been an unfortunate stain on a country looking to make a reputation for itself as a world leader, economic power, and technological innovator. Further, many barons of Indian industry have been speaking out against the ban, considering it “unreasonable” and “draconian,” and calling instead for a “more balanced approach for lawful interception.”

The problem here, however, is that it’s doubtful that such a balanced approach was reached. In the middle of a well publicised slump in popularity, RIM hardly had the resources or clout to take on the Indian government—you’ll note that Google was similarly threatened but has apparently chosen to call India’s bluff—and so giving in to the demands of the government seemed like the only way to retain any foothold in the Indian business market.

So what does this all mean for the Indian Blackberry user? If nothing else, it means that the one guarantee that RIM was able to give to its business users—that of unrivalled security—is no longer valid in India.

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