India will take a final decision on Aug. 30 on whether to block some BlackBerry services over which the country has security concerns, a senior government source said on Tuesday. The maker of the smartphone, Canada's Research In Motion, faces an Aug. 31 deadline to give India the means to track and read its secure email that officials fear have the potential to be misused by militants.
The source, who is close to the negotiations with RIM, said Indian security and telecom agencies will hold "technical" meetings with the firm on Thursday and Friday for a solution. "We are hopeful of arriving at a positive solution," the source said. If RIM fails to comply then it would be cut out of one of the world's fastest-growing telecoms market. India's security agencies are currently testing ways to access corporate email on BlackBerry devices by obtaining encrypted data in a readable format.
India said last week it would allow the messenger service to continue beyond the deadline as it had been assured access to the services. India is one of a number of countries putting pressure on RIM, which has built the reputation of the BlackBerry, popular with business professionals and politicians, around confidentiality. Governments such as Saudi Arabia's fear it could become a tool to plan militant attacks or for those breaking Islamic laws. A shutdown would affect about 1 million users in India out of a total 41 million BlackBerry users worldwide, allowing them to use the devices only for calls and Internet browsing.