RIM looks for industry forum to deal with BlackBerry spat with India

     With only five days left to reach an agreement before the Indian government bans its flagship services, Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian maker of BlackBerry, is reaching out to form an industry forum of technology and communications players to work with the government. RIM and the Indian government are holding last-minute talks ahead of the August 31 deadline, when a ban on certain services is due to begin. The Indian government wants access in a readable format to encrypted BlackBerry e-mail and instant messaging services, on grounds that militants could use it. On the other hand, RIM maintains that it does not do "specific deals" with countries. According to The Globe and Mail, the industry forum's goal would be to help come up with policies that balance what the government wants with what RIM needs - the ability to assure customers that their e-mail and data are secure. RIM said in a statement that it is "extending an offer to the Government of India whereby RIM would lead an industry forum focused on supporting the lawful access needs of law enforcement agencies while preserving the legitimate information security needs of corporations and other organizations in India." RIM also tried to frame the looming ban as damaging India's image as a safe and rational place to do business. "Banning such strong encryption-based information and communications services would severely limit the effectiveness and productivity of India's corporations," the statement added. Earlier, the Indian Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had directed all telecom service providers to ensure that a technical solution for interception and monitoring of Blackberry services in readable format is made available to the Law Enforcing Agencies by August 31. "In case no solution is provided, those services which can not be intercepted and monitored in readable format may be banned by the government," said Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology. There are an estimated one million BlackBerry subscribers in the country.

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