Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blackberry Again Refused To Give BES Access To India

Home Ministry of India has been pressuring research in motion (RIM) to ensure real time e-surveillance and interception to its security and intelligence agencies. Succumbing to the pressure, RIM has already agreed for allowing e-surveillance of its messenger services.

However, RIM is still showing its inability to provide similar assistance for its blackberry enterprise server (BES) product and services. RIM is maintaining that it is technically not possible to part away with encryption keys that are residing with the users.

India on the other hand is contending that when RIM has provided similar services to other nations, why cannot it be extended to India? Now this is a genuine demand. If RIM is allowing access to its BES services in America, there is no reason why such an arrangement cannot be made in India.

Now RIM has to either establish that the BES services are not subject to any sort of real time analysis, even in America, or it must extend real time e-surveillance assistance to India as well.

It seems RIM is taking the first stand i.e. incapability to provide encryption keys of users to any person or nation, including America. However, there is a significant difference between Indian and American situation.

India does not have a constitutionally sound lawful interception law. India is demanding e-surveillance support without judicial review and adequate civil liberty safeguards and this may be challenged by RIM in Indian courts.

According to Praveen Dalal, a Supreme Court lawyer and leading techno legal expert of India, those believing in a good combination of Privacy and Security must use Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) along with any good smart phone. This way you can have a better and e-surveillance free mobile infrastructure than the future controversial Blackberry phones.

He has even suggested some self defence measures that users can take in case of excessive and unconstitutional e-surveillance and unlawful interceptions in India against them.

However, like all other things, there is limit beyond which this right of self defence is not available to law abiding individuals. Beyond this limit, self defence would become illegal and unlawful. Within these limits, users can use technology to safeguard their privacy rights and civil liberties.