News Analysis: Countries from India to the UAE don't like secrets, especially when they're held by their own citizens, but banning BlackBerry is shortsighted and futile.
and Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, have reached a
compromise in the demands
by that government
to have unencumbered access to the messages sent by
RIM, meanwhile, is trying to find ways to ensure that its
customers have the level of confidentiality
required by today's connected
businesses. The two sides have reportedly reached a compromise, although the
details of the agreement are not clear.
Smartphone users in India
make up a smaller proportion of the population than they do in the United
States and Western Europe,
which may explain why the government is getting away with its plan to force
disclosure of BlackBerry message content.
But still, there are a million BlackBerry users in the
country, and those are a million people with money and influence, and the
ability to speak louder than their comparative minority may suggest in a nation
of 1.1 billion people. Perhaps this explains why the Indian government was
willing to reach an agreement that won't shut off RIM's devices, at least for
another two months.
Unfortunately, the Indian government and the BlackBerry
universe either are ignoring or are unaware of the fact that BlackBerry
communications aren't necessarily all that secure. Cutting off the service will
be expensive for the users who will need to go out and buy new smartphones, it
will hurt commerce from outside India when users from the United States and
Europe realize they can't communicate securely, and it makes the Indian
government look like it's grasping at straws in its efforts to keep a lid on
Yes, it's true that India
has had some tragic experiences with terrorism, and it's also true that
terrorists need secure communications to hide from police and the intelligence
services. But anyone who thinks they can evade the reaches of electronic
intelligence by using a BlackBerry is in dreamland. All that banning the
BlackBerry will accomplish is to force the use of secure communications using
some other device.
When you think about it, there's nothing to keep Indian
users of some smartphones at least from encrypting their e-mail whether the
government likes it or not. PGP is already available for Android devices and
for the BlackBerry.