After much controversy, BlackBerry has finally set up its server in Mumbai following intense pressure from the government to provide a mechanism for lawful interception of its messenger services and Nokia has been asked to follow suit.
During a high-level meeting at the Union Home Ministry recently, officials of the security agencies were informed that Canada-based Research in Motion has installed the servers in Mumbai.
The servers have been inspected by a team of officers and permission for direct linkage for lawful interception was expected to be issued shortly, a presentation made at the meeting held in the office of the Home Secretary said.
About the Nokia Push Mail, the Department of Telecom also prescribed a similar policy as in the case adopted by the BlackBerry, the presentation said.
The government and BlackBerry manufacturers were in a logjam over its services in India as security agencies had raised a red flag over its operations citing non availability of method to intercept its messenger service and enterprise mail.
However, there was a climbdown by the government on intercepting mail sent through BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) which decrypts the messages and sends it to email server of the service
Then the message is pushed to the BlackBerry device in encrypted form. The DoT secretary informed that currently there are about 5000 Enterprise Servers for BES. Director Intelligence Bureau Nehchal Sandhu noted that these are communications between the employees of the enterprise only and, therefore, are not of "high concern" for security or Intelligence agencies.
"However, it was decided to obtain list and location of the servers from telecom service providers," the presentation said. RIM representatives had explained that BlackBerry mobile device sends the encrypted email which is sent to BES located with the service provider.
The government had said the onus of giving access to security agencies to monitor the information on these smart phones lies with the service providers.
According to the licensing conditions, the service providers are liable to put in a mechanism to allow security agencies to intercept any conversation or message of any subscriber whenever required.
As telecom service providers like Airtel, Vodafone, RCom, the Tatas and the government-run BSNL and MTNL are offering BlackBerry services, it is the responsibility of these operators to ensure that the security agencies get access to all services they offer.
RIM has its operations in 175 countries.