Customers enter a mobile phone shop as a billboard of a BlackBerry phone is placed at the entrance in Calcutta, India, Friday, Aug. 13, 2010. India may ask Google and Skype for greater access to encrypted information, once it resolves security concerns with BlackBerry, which is now under threat of a ban, according to a government document and two people familiar with the talks. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
The foreign governments are essentially a decade behind in coming to terms with encryption, a technology that's fundamental to the Internet as a medium of commerce.
Encrypted communications are scrambled in a complex process to ensure that only the intended recipient can read them, using the proper digital key. This often takes place behind the scenes, without the user needing to do anything. When you submit your credit card number on a shopping site, the communication is encrypted. When you log in to your bank's site, that connection is encrypted as well.
Most companies use encrypted connections for their corporate e-mails, at least if employees need to access e-mail outside the office through virtual private networks and other secure systems. One of the reasons Research In Motion Ltd. has been so successful with its BlackBerry phones is that it brought that level of security to e-mail-capable phones.