Monday, April 18, 2011

India Bans Nokia E-mail Services

Nokia's new push e-mail services have been banned in India, as the country moves its sights beyond BlackBerry maker Research in Motion in its quest to monitor telecommunications. The Finnish phone maker's new push e-mail services are now barred by India's mobile operators, by orders of the government, which is waiting for a new monitoring system to be put in place.

India's Ministry of Home Affairs have ordered “Telecom Service Providers not to launch Nokia's proposed pushmail and powermail service without putting in place monitoring facilities."

Nokia's messaging services, which include push e-mail for companies and consumers, allows mobile users to manage multiple e-mail accounts via clients such as Yahoo, Gmail, Rediff and Sify.

Nokia representatives in India said they have not heard about the issue but strive to meet government and legal demands where they do business.

The move is part of increasing security activity by the Indian government on telecommunications it cannot monitor. Previously, Indian authorities have tussled with RIM's BlackBerry e-mail services, ordering RIM to come up with a solution that would allow government to intercept business-level e-mail services.

But while the pressure on RIM primarily affects its growth in the business market in India, Nokia's ban may prove more wide-ranging. While the Finnish company has been beleaguered by the rise of Apple and Android and the steady erosion of its market share to these rivals, Nokia is still the world's largest handset maker, partly based on its share in emerging global smartphone markets.

With nearly 50 percent of the E-Series business phones activated for push e-mail, India's ban could hit a crucial segment for the company. Nokia previously claimed it set up servers in India to enable local security agencies to monitor the Finnish company's enterprise e-mail services within the country.

India's home ministry doesn't look likely to let up on its national security efforts, however. It has already asked telecom and IT departments to broaden the meaning of telecom and Internet services within existing legal frameworks, which would make it mandatory for operators to have security systems in place to allow interception by national security agencies based on telephone numbers, device identity, e-mail IDs, IP addresses or keywords on a real-time basis.


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