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Nokia and RIM face India ban following government demand to monitor email traffic

India’s telecom authorities have reportedly been instructed to ban operators from offering Nokia’s push email services until a system for monitoring its data has been established. The country’s Ministry of Home Affairs has asked that the Department of Telecom instruct “Telecom Service Providers not to launch Nokia's proposed pushmail/powermail service without putting in place monitoring facilities.”

India represents a key market for Nokia, so a ban on its services would be a severe blow. A large number of its devices – including around half of its popular E Series business phones – are compatible with the push email service. Devices with the service enabled allow users to access multiple email accounts with several clients, including Gmail, Yahoo and Sify.

Nokia maintains that local security agencies in India are able to keep check on its enterprise email services via servers that it has established. The country’s authorities are moving to shut down any telecommunications services that they cannot access in order to scrutinise.

Following a similar situation in the UAE, RIM’s BlackBerry services have also been threatened with suspension. Designed to freeze out third party interference, the firm claims that its encrypted servers are extremely difficult to intercept – even for itself. Despite this, the Indian government has demanded a solution allowing them to access the servers, although the deadline for the provision of such a solution was March 31 and the issue remains unresolved.

India’s departments of telecoms and IT are set to expand the legal definition of telecom and internet services following a request from the country’s home ministry. Once this legislation has been overhauled, operators will be obliged to intercept server traffic at the request of national security agencies, providing details such as telephone numbers, email addresses, IP addresses and device registrations.

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