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Frenny Bawa, MD, RIM India says, the security discussions with the government are still underway.
Q: Let me move on to something that has been discussed in the media since quite sometime. There has been a lot of to and fro as far as discussions with the government is concerned on the security issues. What is the current status because we have heard enough, but what is exactly happening currently as far as the discussions with the government are concerned?
A: Itís well publicized that the security issue on the smartphone front is not a BlackBerry specific issue; itís an industry wide issue. We take the Indian governmentís security issue concerns very seriously and we will continue to do that. On one hand, India is a thriving nation with the second highest GDP growth rate in the world. So it needs access to the latest technology and the latest communication devices, etc.
Q: Do you feel that the security concerns could hinder the Indian smartphone market or the growth of the Indian smartphone market in any way at all?
A: We operate in, and we have talked about this before, some 175 countries globally and we respect the laws of each government. There is always a balance; you have got the national security concerns and then you have got economic interests as well. These concerns exists in the developed as well as developing world.
Q: As far as the discussion with the government in India is concerned, you have given access to BlackBerry messenger, you have given access to BlackBerry BIS as well. But enterprise is one thing, which you cannot give access to?
A: A unique selling proposition in the enterprise space is security and itís an industry issue because every manufacturer recognizes that security is a key requirement for the enterprise. So thatís a case in all countries and all countries find a balance in policy, in tweaking policy etc, whereby they are able to address both the national security concerns as well as the well being of industries and businesses in India.
Q: So then what is the status currently? Has the government agreed to settle the enterprise issue? There is no threat of enterprise being blocked right?
A: Not that I am aware of. I know that there are discussions underway and probably policy matter is being decided as we speak and itís all part of evolution.
Q: So this is basically an issue under contention even today?
A: It always is for any government. There is always a balance between economic interests and security interests. Again, as I said, we operate in a 175 countries and all of those countries have the same concerns and their different approaches and India is a very fast emerging country.
Q: Just a technical question. I was reading up somewhere, there was a possibility that the government may speak to the telecom operators and ask for the encryption code, is that possible at all for an enterprise?
A: Our position on that is very clear and if you look at the way that our service is architected, we donít actually have the encryption key. So in the way that the BlackBerry works in the enterprise is as soon as you type an e-mail message on your BlackBerry, the minute it goes into your BlackBerry enterprise server, itís encrypted and itís encrypted, and itís encrypted throughout the transport to itís destination. So the key is generated at the enterprise level.
Q: So the key is with the individual corporates, simply put, the key is with the individual corporates ?
A: Exactly, thatís right, not with BlackBerry.
Q: Not even with the telecom operators?
A: Thatís right.
Q: You canít go to a Vodafone or an Idea or ask them for the codes because they will have to individually go out to the corporates?
Q: Has there been any kind of response from the consumers and the buyers, any kind of fall in sales or something because of the security concerns or did you detect that initially?
A: If you think about it, any of the BlackBerry specific issues were put to rest last August. So if I tell you that we are going faster than the market for smartphones that gives an indication Ė that gives you an indication. I said last time we met that the issue, such as a security issue, come up and as far as I am concerned, they are part of doing business in any geography and how you approach it that matters. So from my perspective, I think that the engagement with the government was very constructive and we have a product and a service that is relevant to the Indian consumer and thatís what matters in the end.
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