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India to gain access to BlackBerry e-mail?

Officials from the country's telecommunications agency are expected to meet with Research In Motion on Thursday to work out an e-mail interception deal over terrorism concerns.

Research In Motion, the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, will meet with Indian officials again Thursday to hash out an agreement over security concerns, Reuters reported Wednesday.

India's security agencies have been pushing RIM to allow it to intercept e-mail that travels across its secure network. Under Indian law, the government has a right under certain circumstances to intercept electronic communications for security purposes. The Indian government believes that it needs access to these mobile e-mails to help thwart terrorists, who are increasingly using the Internet and e-mail to communicate with each other.

According to Reuters, Andimuthu Raja, India's telecommunications director, said last week that RIM had assured the government that it is working on a solution. But late last week, the company said that it wouldn't be able to "accommodate" any such request, the story said.

BlackBerry service is being offered by four service providers in India: Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone-controlled Vodafone Essar, and BPL Mobile. Currently, there are 114,000 BlackBerry subscribers in India.

India is an important market for RIM and other handset makers. As the North American and European markets mature and reach saturation, developing markets such as India will provide substantial growth in the coming years.