BlackBerry data requests legitimate: UN official

London: The chief of the United Nation's (UN) telecommunications agency urged the Canadian manufacturer of the BlackBerry to allow law enforcement agencies, including those in India, access to customer data, saying governments had legitimate security concerns which should not be ignored, reports PTI.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agency's secretary general Hamadoun Toure said that all governments engaged in the fight against terrorism had the right to demand access to users' information from the maker of the BlackBerry - Research In Motion Ltd.

"Those are genuine requests," he told The Associated Press yesterday.

"There is a need for cooperation between governments and the private sector on security issues".

RIM has said it complies with all legal requests, but is unable to provide anyone with the text of e-mails sent using its corporate service, which is designed from the ground up for secure communications.

The International Telecommunication Union is responsible for coordinating the use of the global radio spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, and establishing standards for the telecommunications industry.

The little-known body also serves as a global forum for discussion of cutting-edge communications issues.

The agency has no independent regulatory power, but Mr Toure's comments are a barometer of sentiment among the agency's 192 member states, who are expected to re-elect him to a second term later this year.

At least five of those members - India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates - are already considering banning some BlackBerry services over concerns that the devices' powerful data encryption could be used as a cover for terrorist and criminal activity.

Civil libertarians have argued that the controversy is in fact fuelled by authoritarian governments' inability to eavesdrop on BlackBerry-using citizens.

Governments in the US and elsewhere have largely made their peace with encryption technology. E-mails can still be obtained through legal channels, for example by obtaining a warrant to search the corporate servers of companies that use BlackBerrys.

But that isn't enough for some officials in Asia and the Middle East, who have demanded that RIM modify its practices to allow them wholesale access to BlackBerry e-mails as they're being transmitted.

RIM has thrown up its hands, saying the way its system is set up prevents anyone except its clients from decrypting communications.

A company representative in London did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr Toure's remarks.


'New Companies Bill to guard against second Satyam episode'

Kolkata:  The new Companies Bill, which is likely to be tabled in the Winter Session of Parliament, will contain provisions to guard against a recurrence of the Satyam episode which shattered the confidence of India Inc, reports PTI quoting minister of state for corporate affairs Salman Khurshid.

"Handling of the Satyam case has given India a higher standing in the world. Learning from Satyam will be reflected in the Bill," Mr Khurshid said at the National Convention of Company Secretaries here today.

Asked later what provisions the Bill would include, he said there would be greater accountability at different levels, strengthening of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and investigating procedures and putting in place an early warning system.

Mr Khurshid also said the new Bill will contain measures to fix responsibilities in case of criminal acts like the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Mr Khurshid said that even after 26 years, the Bhopal dispute remained unresolved.

He said the ministry was concerned about the role of promoter directors, CEOs and independent directors in case of criminal acts.

The ministry has got good guidance from the Standing Committee of Parliament, which will be incorporated in the final draft of the Bill, he said.

"We are also waiting for the Supreme Court's view on liability for criminal acts," he said.

Mr Khurshid said the government would see that regulations were in place to bring about transparency in the running of corporate houses.

"We do not want to enter the boardroom of corporates. But they also should be mindful of their responsibilities. We will be happy with little control," Mr Khurshid said.

He said the Companies Bill has been in the pipeline for the last seven or eight years.

The Bill is likely to be tabled in the Winter Session of Parliament and positively by the end of the fiscal.

The final draft was getting prepared, he said.

About the voluntary guidelines which were issued by the ministry, Mr Khurshid said, "The government is toying with the idea of what needs to be shifted to make it mandatory and what to keep voluntary."

Ministry of corporate affairs secretary R Banerjee said that as professionals, company secretaries should keep a watchful eye to ensure compliance with regulations.

"Complaints come to us that company secretaries, instead of guiding corporates the right way, are advising them how to bypass the legislations," he regretted.


Govt starts anti-dumping probe into soda ash imports

New Delhi: India has initiated a probe into alleged dumping of soda ash by countries like China, Iran and Pakistan to protect domestic players, reports PTI.

The commerce ministry's designated authority, the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD), has started an investigation into alleged dumping of the chemical, used in detergent and soap making, on the basis of an application filed by the Alkali Manufacturers' Association of India.

"... The authority (DGAD) hereby initiates an investigation into the alleged dumping and consequential injury to the domestic industry... To determine the effect of dumping and to recommend the amount of anti-dumping duty... To remove the injury," the commerce ministry said in a notification.

The period of investigation for the purpose is from April, 2009, to March, 2010.

It said that the DGAD has sufficient prima facie evidence of dumping of soda ash by China, the EU, Kenya, Pakistan, Iran, the US and Ukraine to initiate the probe.

As many as 15 anti-dumping duties have been imposed in the first 11 months of the current fiscal, with the maximum on Chinese goods. India has slapped the restrictive duty on several items such as yarn, fabrics, certain stainless steel products, auto parts and chemicals.

Countries initiate an anti-dumping probe to see whether their domestic industries have been hurt because of a surge in cheap imports. As a counter-measure, they impose duties under the multilateral regime of the WTO.

The duty also ensures fair trading practices and creates a level-playing field for domestic producers vis-à-vis foreign producers and exporters resorting to dumping.


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