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RIM to Host Industry Forum in India to Highlight Sensible Security Debate

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India is sticking to its August 31st deadline for RIM to come up with a way for the government to get access to encrypted BlackBerry email. The deadline is fast approaching but there isn’t much RIM can do because as they have stated many times before: there is no master key to decrypt BlackBerry email. That would defeat the entire purpose of encryption.

In an effort to calm the situation, RIM has offered to lead an industry forum in India focused on supporting the lawful access needs of law enforcement agencies, while preserving the legitimate information security needs of corporations and other organizations in India.
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The Official Word from RIM About BlackBerry Security and Data Access

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Recently, we posted a story with some quotes from RIM stating they weren’t about to acquiesce to demands about security. We were recently sent an official document sent to government and enterprise customers regarding the situation and it has provided much of the commentary you’ve seen in the mainstream media. Click through after the jump to read:
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RIM Says It’s Unable to Accommodate Government Requests for Data Access

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The ban on BlackBerry in the UAE has been a hot topic lately and RIM has a few statements on the topic that are interesting. RIM hasn’t directly discussed the ban in the UAE due to the confidential nature of talks with governments, but reiterated some key points about the platform that indirectly address the issue.

RIM has come out saying the BlackBerry network was set up so that “no one, including RIM, could access” customer data, which is encrypted from the time it leaves the device. It added RIM would “simply be unable to accommodate any request” for a key to decrypt the data, since the company doesn’t have the key.

The BlackBerry network is designed “to exclude the capability for RIM or any third party to read encrypted information under any circumstances,” RIM’s statement said.

The location of BlackBerry’s servers doesn’t matter, the company said, because the data on them can’t be deciphered without a decryption key.

“RIM assures customers that it will not compromise the integrity and security of the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution,” the statement said.

So it looks like RIM will not budge on compromising their security and any government looking to get access is simply out of luck.

Indian Government Still Asking for Backdoor to BlackBerry Service

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The Indian government has been asking for a backdoor to BlackBerry email for some time now. The Indian Intelligence Services see BlackBerry as a security threat because it allows individuals to communicate over a secure network without the government monitoring the chatter. In the past, the Indian government asked RIM to give them a backdoor to the infrastructure so they could monitor the system but RIM denied them this feature. It doesn’t make any sense for RIM to offer a backdoor because it sets a presedence for weakening the security for governments which is the device’s competitive advantage.

Recently, the Indian Department of Telecom (DoT) has put RIM and Skype on a potential ban list unless they make data going through their networks available to security agencies in a readable format.

“DoT will call the representatives of Research In Motion (manufacturer of Blackberry devices) and Skype and ask them to ensure that the content going through the telecom service providers is in readable format. They have to ensure that this is implemented within 15 days failing which services that do not allow lawful interception on a real-time basis would be blocked/banned,” said an internal Government note.

It’s an interesting conundrum because on the one hand, users shouldn’t feel like the government is watching them, but on the other hand, there is a more present threat of terrorism in India than in most countries. It’s a common “Big Brother” argument. Should you let the government spy on citizens for the greater good, or ban it outright out of principle?

BlackBerry-Based WIC Pager Pilot Program at Children’s Hospital

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Currently, many hospitals use an outdated pager system to get in touch with doctors on call. This solution does not allow admins to know whether the message was received and relies on a code system that doesn’t provide much detail as to the nature of the page. Wallace Wireless have a BlackBerry-based solution that brings pager like services to BlackBerry users. The system is in the process of being piloted at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), and if it’s successful could set a new standard for healthcare professionals.
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BlackBerry Security Helps Drive Sales in Venezuela

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RIM are making some great headway in Venezuela, and BlackBerry is the top selling smartphone in Latin America. In Q3 of 2009, BlackBerry accounted for 37% of smartphone shipments to Latin America, according to IDC. This is up from 14% the year previous.

What seems to be driving the growth, particularly in Venezuela, is the popularity of BlackBerry Messenger and the platform’s security. According to Douglas Ochoa, the VP of communications at Telefonica Venezuela, “Venezuelans are, how can you say it, mistrustful. So they’re looking for a way to communicate, to be connected, in a very secure way, and I think Blackberry has done that.”

Since BlackBerry was first introduced in Venezuela, sales have increased more than 100% per trimester, and the device, which costs anywhere from VEB869 (US$200) to VEB6,579 (US$1,530), depending on the model, has become a status symbol.