India may be the world’s hottest telecom market but it is becoming a nightmare for foreign suppliers.
Research in Motion (RIM) is at a standoff with security services over access to data sent over the BlackBerry, while equipment suppliers are angry over new network security measures announced last week.
The Canadian device maker told the Financial Times that it sees no prospect of a deal with Indian authorities over the BlackBerry, which has been banned in Saudi Arabia and likely to be blocked in the Gulf states as well.
RIM refused government requests to set up a proxy server in India and was also refusing to open up its technology to local authorities, which would enable government surveillance.
“It’s like asking Coke for their secret formula. It’s not going to happen,” a source told the FT.
The vendor denied reports it had offered India a unique solution, in a statement mailed to telecomseurope.net.
“There is only one BlackBerry enterprise solution available to our customers around the world and it remains unchanged in all of the markets we operate in.”
India’s government believes the terrorists who carried out attacks in Mumbai two years ago used BlackBerry-like devices to organize the campaign.
Security officials have warned that BlackBerry will be shut down unless it can be “fully intercepted by our agencies,” the Economic Times reported.
The Intelligence Bureau is reviewing a compromise offered by RIM last week, which would allow security agencies to track emails without sharing encryption details.
RIM explained that its BlackBerry enterprise solution is “designed to preclude RIM, or any third party, from reading encrypted information under any circumstances.”
Meanwhile foreign network vendors say they will lobby further for an easing of the penalties for breaches of new network security rules, which provide for cancellation of 100% of equipment contracts.
Authorities also require vendors to deposit hardware and software codes in escrow accounts to allow inspection for “security hazards, malware, traps, etc.”
One vendor source, who asked not to be named, said the demand was “unacceptable,” adding that their firm “certainly plan to take the fight to the authorities on this.”
Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies said in an emailed statement: “We appreciate the government's efforts on this matter and we are reviewing the new policy.”