BlackBerry could miss out on one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world after missing a data sharing deadline set by the Indian government.
India’s authorities had given Research In Motion (RIM), the owner of BlackBerry, until 31st January to grant it access to email encryption codes. RIM, which has been in talks with the Indian government since last summer, has now responded by saying it would not give access to confidential data about its business customers.
The Indian government argues it needs access to email communications to deter terrorist threats. The 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which killed 164 people, were later proven to have been largely co-ordinated by mobile phone and internet messages.
RIM claims it is unable to comply with India’s requests. ‘No changes can be made to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server [corporate email] customers since, contrary to any rumors, the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers’ encryption keys,” the company said in a statement.
600,000 RIM devices are expected to be sold in India this year, according to forecasts from Informa Telecoms & Media, making this an important market for BlackBerry. Now at 12 millions, the Indian smartphone market is expected to reach 40 million devices by the end of 2015. BlackBerry is the mobile service of choice for a large number of international businesses, favouring its efficient email encoding system.
Commentators doubt Blackberry will be shut out from India altogether, although such moves are not without precedent. The smartphones were temporarily banned from Saudi Arabia last year, before an agreement was reached. The United Arab Emirates has threatened to ban RIM in the past, while French officials have in the past been banned from discussing certain government matters using their BlackBerrys.