You’re either with them or again’ ’em, it seems. Latest member to join the I Hate BlackBerry club is India, reports Reuters this morning, joining the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Germany, and EU workers. (Saudi Arabia has put its membership on hiatus, following the decision of RIM, the original smartphone’s parent company, to allow the country access to some of its codes.) If, following tomorrow’s meeting between the Indian authorities and its network providers, a timetable allowing lawful access cannot be agreed on, then the country’s one million BlackBerry users will be cut off.
Like Saudi Arabia, Germany, and the Emirates before it, this all hinges on the security issue. The Indian government wants access to encrypted communication that is linked to terrorist activity–including the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but since BlackBerry maintains its own servers within, the authorities can’t force the firm to hand this data over.
What India can do instead is threaten to kick the devices out of the country–heavy-handed stuff–which would cause a real upset to RIM, currently battling the iPhone and Android for the lion’s share of smartphone market share. And, since both Apple and Google have no qualms in allowing access to user data, RIM is in a bit of a pickle.
India’s beef, however, has been going on for longer than the Reuters report implies. Its government has already been in negotiations with the Canadian firm, and earlier this month both sides reached an agreement. RIM’s kowtowing to Saudi Arabia’s wishes has reportedly made India want the same terms–instant access to data, rather than within 15 days–as the Saudis now enjoy.
All of this, however, could prove to be a headache for the Canadian government. Most of the countries involved in the BlackBerry furore are allies of the North Americans. The Embassy website reckons that, should the country feel the need to get its diplomats involved in the situation, it will be negotiating on a trade ticket rather than a rights ticket.