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RIM aiding India with wiretaps, report says

The BlackBerry provider is said to be providing decoded customer messages to the Indian government--as long as it believes there is "legal authorization" to do so.

Research In Motion is providing the Indian government with some information on BlackBerry users, as long as the company deems it appropriate, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.

Citing anonymous sources, the Journal says that RIM has a "small" facility in Mumbai that was set up earlier this year to field surveillance requests from the Indian government. The Journal's sources say that the government must provide RIM with enough legal justification for the company to hand over an individual's "decoded messages," including BlackBerry Messenger chats.

But Indian government apparently wants more. For example, the Journal's sources say, the government still cannot intercept corporate e-mail messages, which has long been its goal. The government would also like to put a law enforcement official in RIM's headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, to more securely present surveillance requests to the company. Those terms, however, have not been accepted by RIM, the sources say.

RIM and India have been engaged in a bitter battle over government access to information for over a year now. And so far, RIM has balked at giving in to all of the government's demands, even though it has faced deadlines that, if not met, would result in the country shutting down its service. As each deadline passed, however, no such shutdowns occurred.

That said, RIM has given in to at least some of the Indian government's demands. In January, for example, RIM said that the government could access its consumer messaging services.

"RIM has now delivered a solution that enables India's wireless carriers to address their lawful access requirements for our consumer messaging services, which includes BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS) e-mail," the company said in a statement to CNET.

RIM said at the time that it couldn't provide the Indian government with access to secure corporate e-mails, since it didn't have the encryption keys to do so.

"No changes can be made to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers since, contrary to any rumors, the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys," RIM said.

RIM has stuck to that story elsewhere around the world, including in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where the countries have demanded the keys. Like India, those countries have threatened RIM with a ban, but the company has been able to work out deals to keep its services running.

RIM did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.