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RIM sidesteps BlackBerry ban in India

Indian officials say they will not ban BlackBerry services while they evaluate solutions that would allow them to satisfy security requirements.

Research In Motion, the maker of the popular BlackBerry smartphone, has averted yet another ban of its e-mail and messaging service, according to news reports Monday.

The Indian government said it will not shut down the service for at least another 60 days as it evaluates proposals RIM has offered that would allow the government to monitor wireless subscribers' communications.

Indian officials said earlier this month that the company had until the end of August to come up with a solution that would allow them to monitor e-mails and other electronic messages from BlackBerry users in the country.

One of the latest proposals likely includes RIM placing one of its servers in India.

"It was also decided that the Department of Telecommunications would study the feasibility of all such services being provided through a server located only in India," Onkar Kedia, a spokesman for the federal Ministry of Home Affairs, said in a statement.

RIM has been working with Indian officials to come up with a solution since earlier this month, when the government threatened to shut down the service over security concerns. Last week, RIM suggested creating an industry forum to address the government's concerns. In this forum, RIM and other mobile companies would work with the Indian government to support "the lawful access needs of law enforcement agencies, while preserving the legitimate information security needs of corporations and other organizations in India."

RIM has faced threats of bans in other countries as well, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. RIM averted a ban in Saudi Arabia by supposedly cutting a deal with Saudi officials, which reportedly also includes putting a server in Saudi Arabia that would allow the security officials to monitor communications.

RIM has been adamant that it has not compromised its core security features. And it claims it has not struck special deals with any country.

"RIM assures both its customers in India and the government of India that RIM maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries," the company said in a statement last week.

Governments in countries threatening to ban the service say they are concerned that the BlackBerry, which features stronger privacy safeguards than competing devices, could be used by terrorists and other criminals to avoid detection.