NEW DELHI: The country’s law enforcement agencies will soon be able to track e-mail as well as email attachments on a real time basis over BlackBerry devices, check whether chats sent over the popular BlackBerry Messenger ( BBM) have been ‘delivered’ or ‘read’, and intercept web-browsing facilities on these devices, bringing to an end a long standing dispute between the government and the Canadian smart phone-maker over interception of communication on its devices.
An internal document of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), a copy of which was reviewed by ET said, “Baring a few minor points for improvement of viewers, the lawful interception system for BlackBerry Services is ready for use.”
But the government appears to have dropped its demand for accessing BlackBerry’s corporate e-mail service rendered through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The law enforcement agencies, it seems are content simply with the identity of the corporates using the service.
A Blackberry spokesperson said the company had delivered a solution that enabled India’s wireless carriers to address their lawful access requirements for its consumer messaging services, which include BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) email. “The lawful access capability now available to BlackBerry’s carrier partners meets the standard required by the Government of India for all consumer messaging services offered in the Indian marketplace. We also wish to underscore, once again, that this enablement of lawful access does not extend to BlackBerry Enterprise Server,” said the spokesperson.
The DoT internal note said nine of 10 telecom service providers providing BlackBerry services were in the process of deploying interception solution.
Government officials from the DoT and IB were present when Blackberry demonstrated interception capabilities services on June 12 over Vodafone’s network in Mumbai. This follows the first round of tests conducted last year in December, under which BlackBerry had first demonstrated interception solution. But interception of web-browsing facilities was not in readable format and the government had made more demands on tracking BBMs and e-mails.
Satisfied with the interception facilities, the government will soon sign an agreement with BlackBerry and acquire the company’s monitoring architecture installed at Mumbai. The company had set up servers and other interception facilities in 2011 after India threatened to shut down BlackBerry services if the company didn’t establish one. As part of the agreement to be signed between the government and BlackBerry, the company will also train government officials at its Ontario facility to handle the technical architecture, operation and maintenance of the monitoring facility. It has offered to train up to five officials.
Three telecom service providers including BSNL, MTNL and the Russian telecom operator Sistema-controlled Sistema Shyam Teleservices are yet to put a ‘lawful interception system’ in place. While MTNL is likely to meet the requirement by July and BSNL by September, SSTL is the only operator to not have communicated any deadline.