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RIM denies giving enterprise encryption keys to Indian government

RIM has denied claims it has given the government of India access to the encryption keys to its secure enterprise email and messaging services.

The Economic Times has alleged that, after years of battling with the Indian government, the BlackBerry manufacturer has finally acquiesced and provided Indian security agencies with a solution that can intercept emails and BlackBerry Messenger chats sent on its corporate devices. The newspaper said the solution, allegedly developed by a firm called Verint, targets both consumer and enterprise correspondence, the latter of which is protected by higher levels of encryption.

But the struggling Waterloo, Canada-based company has rejected the accusation, categorising it as “false and misleading.”

“RIM is providing an appropriate lawful access solution that enables India’s telecom operators to be legally compliant with respect to their BlackBerry consumer traffic, to the same degree as other smartphone providers in India, but this does not extend to secure BlackBerry enterprise communications,” the company said in a statement.

“As we have stated on several occasions, and as we have set out in our company’s Lawful Access Principles, RIM cannot access information encrypted through BlackBerry Enterprise Server as RIM is not ever in possession of the encryption keys,” RIM said.

After being threatened with having its services in India shut down by the government, RIM set up a Mumbai facility last year to work with authorities on conducting lawful surveillance on citizens’ BlackBerry usage. But RIM is careful to insist that spying does not apply to enterprise communications, which is one of its last remaining selling points as the company continues to grapple with its place in the global smartphone market.

RIM has faced similar pressures around the world, including in the Middle East and in Indonesia, where it agreed in early in 2011 to block adult content on BlackBerry browsers.