New Delhi August 12, 2010- Most sofisticated smart phone could be out of market if government of India ask service providers to discontinue some of its features.
India is expected to make a major decision Thursday regarding BlackBerry, which is under serious scrutiny because the highly encrypted messages in the device make it impossible for intelligence agencies to monitor and, thus, pose a national security threat.
“Knowledge and information from all sources is necessary, there are no two ways about it,” said Vikram Sood, a retired Indian intelligence agent.
Sood said India would be completely blindsided if terrorists used BlackBerries to plot an attack and the devices were inaccessible by the government.
“So what do you do? React after the fact?” Sood asked. “If you react after the fact, the explosion has taken place or a terrorist act has taken place, 100 people, 150 people have died.
“Who is liable for that? Is BlackBerry going to be liable because it was withholding information in a manner of speaking? So isn’t it better to share?”
The situation brings up an old debate brought on by new technologies — the government’s right to know versus consumers’ rights to privacy and free flowing information.
The decision will have huge ramifications in India, one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world. More than 600 million Indians use cellular phones, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India; 1 million of those are BlackBerries.
So the loss for Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of BlackBerry, is potentially huge in India. If it loses some of the services it offers, it could have a harder time attracting customers.
Telecom operators in the country seem to be hedging their bets. They’re working up contingency plans, but not really expecting to lose BlackBerry services, especially considering that RIM was able to make concessions and strike a deal with Saudi Arabia to avoid a ban.
“We think it will all be worked out,” said Sanjay Warke, chief executive officer of telecom giant Vodaphone’s India operations
Some find it hard to believe that the world’s largest democracy is taking such a tough stance. But India also has deep security concerns as one of the most-attacked countries in the world.
The country was shaken after suspected Pakistani militants attacked Mumbai in November, 2008, leaving more than 160 people dead. In that incident, the government eventually tapped into satellite phone conversations between the terrorists and their handlers, but the attack was already underway.
India is the largest market for new technology, gadgets and many other consumer goods in the world due to its financial stability in recent years and growth of income of individuals.