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Monday, August 16, 2010 11:00:09 PM, Smita Prakash, ANI

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New Delhi: The world is conspiring against coffee and blackberry addicts. Till now, it was just research scholars or lab-coat specialists who came up with theories that coffee and smart phone usage was the root cause of all evil, whether migraine, impotency, heart attacks, ADD, nervous disorder. Anything. Name it and it was laid on the doorstep of the coffee cup or the cell phone.

And now, the government has joined up with the disbelievers. Indian Communication Minister A. Raja said in Parliament last week that security agencies were unable to intercept and monitor in readable format Blackberry services like messenger, chat and email because of their encryptions.

That kind of makes me feel a little reassured actually. Shouldn't my mails be safe from the prying eyes of the government? Oh of course, its national security we are told. Do you want another 26/11? And, that question puts to end any further prickly questions one might want to ask. No, of course, I don't want another terrorist attack of the magnitude of the Mumbai attacks. Hell, I don't want any terrorist attack of any magnitude. But can I please keep my Blackberry?

I just don't want to give it up for the iPhone, though I have heard that iPhone users get more of 'that'. Did you know? A study appeared in the papers very recently, suspiciously timed with the Blackberry security issue story, that iPhone users get more sex, almost double as compared to Blackberry users. It's not a matter of size. The iPhone is not really all that big. Now I digress. The study says it has something to do with the quality of lens. It has a large aperture. I see. So, that makes the iPhone more attractive? And then there is the compatibility factor with other country cousins, the iPad, iPod and Mac. Really, it really sounds so much like the Hindu Undivided Family. So not 21st century.

Me? I am really hooked to my Blackberry. I never liked the touch phone. I have had too many accidental text messages going to family members when they were actually meant for, you know, non-family people. And then, you can't let children anywhere near touch screen phones. They delete numbers, erase data, and smudge the screen. It's a veritable nightmare.

The Blackberry with its sturdy no frills shape and size is just perfect. It fits into my gym pants with as much ease as it slides into the tiny phone compartment in my evening handbag. It stores my music, and all my appointments. And, I can lock the keypad and not have to worry about accidental text messages landing up at my boss's cell phone. I can messenger my girlie friends for secretly stolen lunches. I can call my grandma with one click and complain about my mother. I have memorized all the commands. This isn't a commercial. It is just admission of a non-geek who hates the idea of wanting to learn the ropes again with a new cell phone.

I check my BB messenger with my first cup of coffee. I check my mails with my second cup. And, of course, now the doctor says that coffee is making me a nervous harridan and the Blackberry, apparently that could make me a security risk.

So, if the Blackberry is taken away, then what next? Coffee it is stupid. That could be taken away too. See, coffee can impair judgment. It makes you nervous. So, if you have a gun in your hand, you could pull the trigger. Ergo, you are a security risk. So, for security reasons coffee makers will soon have to comply with parameters.

I wish Blackberry makers would do the same. Just give the coordinates to the government. Read what the communications minister said. "If encryption equipment higher than this limit (40bits) are deployed, individuals/groups/ organizations should obtain prior written permission of the licensor and deposit the encryption key with the licensor."

All I could understand is "We are going to make life hell for you, you private player. Just comply."

With a million or so Blackberry users out of the 40 million smart phone users in the country, can you even imagine the amount of data that the government will have to sift through to? They do have all the time in the world. It is not as if they are in a tearing hurry to solve issues like Kashmir, Naxal or price-rise. Once they get hold of our Blackberrys then everything will work with clockwork speed. Terrorists will be caught, development will reach the Maoist villages, and there will be no stones in Srinagar to pelt.

So really Blackberry, do you want to lose this huge bazaar called India? You have till August 31, 2010 to 'resolve' this issue. And you know in 'governmentese' that means 'toe the line'. So just do it.



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