New Delhi. The maker of BlackBerry said on Wednesday that it hoped for a rapid solution to a security row with the Indian government but insisted it would not allow surveillance of encrypted e-mails.
BlackBerry’s woes in India come as Saudi Arabia announced a suspension of BlackBerry operations starting on Friday because security agencies cannot monitor communications sent and received on the handset.
The United Arab Emirates has also said it would halt BlackBerry e-mail, messenger and other services on the same grounds, starting in October.
Canada-based Research In Motion, maker of the smartphone, denied reports it would allow Indian intelligence to read BlackBerry messages to satisfy security concerns of the government.
“There can be no compromise on security for our customers’ communications,” RIM spokesman Satchit Gayakwad said.
A Communications Ministry spokesman in India said on Wednesday that efforts to resolve the security concerns with BlackBerry were “ongoing.”
The Economic Times on Wednesday quoted an unnamed official as saying India would close BlackBerry services that could not be monitored.
Meanwhile, security experts say banning BlackBerry data service in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere smacked of a political backlash and could be a testament to how hard it is to snoop on that network.
“The BlackBerry security model is very different from other phones,” said Kevin Mahaffey of Lookout mobile security firm. “Its end-to-end and the encryption is so strong nobody knows how to monitor it.”
RIM built its own platform for business customers that encrypts BlackBerry e-mail messages and routes them in a way that keeps them off limits even to the firms that carry the transmissions.
The company continues to deny allegations it had offered some governments access to customers’ data and not others, as it faced a ban in three Gulf States and India.