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RIM calls news reports from India 'inaccurate'

BlackBerry maker says news reports from India that RIM is close to providing lawful access to and monitoring of data in the country are "inaccurate" and "misleading."

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion says news reports suggesting that it's close to an agreement to provide India with lawful access to monitor and access network data are "inaccurate" and "misleading."

One story CNET found, published yesterday in the Indian paper Mint, quotes an unnamed senior official from India's Home Ministry who said that an agreement is near that would give the Indian government access to the encrypted data on RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES).

"They have in principle agreed to provide us recorded data from their servers," the senior home ministry official said, according to Mint. "Now they have assured us that they will discuss the issue first among themselves and find a way to meet our demands. Later, they would be providing live access to BES."

The Mint story further said that RIM has already acquiesced to India's demand to monitor the BlackBerry e-mail service by giving the government manual access and will provide a final solution by January 31. Late last month, India called off a ban of BlackBerry services that was scheduled for October 31, citing an interim agreement reached with RIM. The Home Ministry also said at the time that RIM promised India it would offer a final solution by January 31, designed to give the government continued access.

But firing off a statement yesterday, RIM is denying and repudiating the new claims coming from the Indian media.

"RIM has once again found it necessary to address certain media reports in India containing inaccurate and misleading statements and information based on unsubstantiated claims from unnamed sources," the company stated. "Our customers can be reassured that the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution continues to be the gold standard for security-conscious organizations in India and worldwide. All our discussions with the government of India have been and continue to be productive and fully consistent with the four core principles we follow in addressing lawful access matters around the world. Any suggestion to the contrary is false."

In its statement, RIM reiterated its four principles for allowing access to its data, summarized below:

1) The access must be legal according to the country's laws and national security requirements; 2) access to data must be vendor neutral, so the same rules apply to other carriers as well to as RIM; 3) RIM's security architecture remains unchanged as a result of the access; and 4) no special deals for specific countries.

RIM has found itself in a difficult situation with India as well as other countries demanding access to the e-mails flowing through its BlackBerry network, all citing national security reasons. Though ongoing business with these nations and continued access to its customers are both vital to the company, RIM has insisted all along that the data on its network is encrypted and that it does not have the ability to hand over the encryption keys.

In its statement, RIM added that it fully expects the matter with India to be resolved satisfactorily.

RIM representatives were not immediately available for comment and further direction to other related Indian news reports. Nor was the Mint reporter who authored the aforementioned story.