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Indian authorities want ability to monitor Blackberry traffic for reasons of security

Some would say it’s not every day that a government gives a mobile phone service provider an ultimatum to either give in or give up, but recently, censorship and government snooping have become more common than in past decades.

Recently, the Indian government demanded that telecom providers allow government authorities to monitor traffic flowing through their networks for terrorist activities. According to a Business Standard post, the Indian government asked a number of telecommunications companies to open up their networks to monitor Blackberry-based traffic or face shutdown throughout the country within 15 days.

Indian government authorities proposed that each service provider work out the details with Blackberry licensor Research in Motion before this 15-day period.

DailyTech contacted RIM's media relations and received the following statement, "RIM operates in more than 130 countries around the world and respects the regulatory requirements of governments. RIM does not comment on confidential regulatory matters or speculation on such matters in any given country."

If RIM and service providers offering Blackberry services comply with the government's demands, it will mean roughly 400,000 Blackberry users will be left without service such as email and messaging. According to India's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, the security of the nation of India is their top priority even if it means that telecom companies will be shut down if they do not let government authorities in and monitor traffic freely.

India is not the first government to demand the ability to monitor telecom traffic. Recently, U.S. government agencies, such as the NSA, have been the center for discussion and legal battles regarding wiretapping. The U.S. Senate has also gone so far as to pass a bill that would give telecoms that cooperate with U.S. agencies in warrant-less wiretapping and other illegal monitoring activities immunity from lawsuits.

Since India has a different legal process than the United States, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology may have a better chance of getting its way with Indian telecoms and consumers.



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RE: encryption ?
By Darkskypoet on 3/27/2008 1:36:47 PM , Rating: 2
But that's just it. It won't. It just increases the cost of entry, and really, not even by that much these days. If you look at criminal organizations in the same light as any corporation; there is a certain cost of entry to be successful, or have a chance at being successful, in an industry. (Be it legit or not) This sort of thing doesn't stop anyone who is committed to doing the other illegal activities of which you speak, it simply means that they become more organized, adapt to it and continue business as usual. If anything, it removes the small player, and increases the likelihood of an increasingly sophisticated and organized criminal sector with more profit at stake.

Case in point, drug trafficking; the American 'War on Drugs' hasn't stopped drug use, nor even really curtailed it. It has simply spawned an exceptionally strong and organized illegal drug sector, that has billions, if not trillions in yearly profits. It has caused an increase in street prices for drugs, increase in crime to gain access to said drugs, and an increase in average incarceration times (more gov't money going to fund prisons).

Who exactly has won? Or is winning? The drug cartels are, certain government departments have increased their budgets and powers so they are, prisons (either privately or state run) have increased budgets, so they are... Any 2 bit dictator in the right place at the right time might, if they allow US intervention without a fight, and follow certain policies to the letter...

Are the American People? The supposedly threatened by the big bad evil drugs? No. But they are paying the bill.

What government departments / private agencies win big on the next war on something? That's who gains from these sorts of things.

Why fight crime? To create a better society... if the net cost of fighting this 'drug war' is far higher then the gains to society by winning this 'ideological crusade', what business case is there to do it? Why perpetually funnel money into it? Why enrich the few at the expense of the many?

I think in large part it is because we have forgotten that a state left unchecked will seek to gain more power for itself at a cost to the citizens that it was created to serve. The entirety of the Drug War's effects have been to create a justified massive expenditure of the states resources, increasing the price of substances that enrich massive cartels. While doing so, it also increases both violent and property crime... A very efficient device in fact at doing just that. It does not help the people, it costs them.

Back on subject, take a look at the sheer amount of spam filled with nonsensical English to get by spam filters... Easy enough to encode messages in that garbage, doesn't even look encrypted. You're telling me that monitoring all the clear text communication in the world is going to help? It'll just be something else that people will spend money on to feel they are increasing their security, and staying (for the most part) oblivious to its actual ineffectiveness. This is a false sense of security, which can be far more damning then not doing so at all.

It is a large step to take, and a lot of money to spend, (which for India, and the US could be spent on much better things) to catch the few idiots that don't adapt. If criminal elements, they would have been out competed anyway and sent packing without this intervention.

Do you think those engaged in industrial espionage are dumb enough to pull out their blackberry and pin the secret formula to another individual in clear text? Would you hire that individual? Come on!


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