RIM Denies Security Compromise Over UAE Ban

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Research in Motion said it will not compromise the security of its BlackBerry phones, in response to a possible ban in UAE and Saudi Arabia

RIM is sticking to its guns, as a ban on the everyday functions of its handsets looms in the Middle Eastern countries of United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

At the weekend it emerged that, from October, the UAE will block the sending of emails, accessing the Internet, and delivering instant messages on Blackberry handsets. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has also announced that from late August, it will prevent the use of the Blackberry-to-Blackberry instant messaging service.

Both nations have cited national security concerns, as they are unable to monitor such communications via the handsets, because BlackBerry handsets automatically send the encrypted data to computer servers outside the two countries.

The move could potentially severely disrupt business travellers going through the Middle East’s busiest airport in Dubai, which averages about 100,000 passengers a day.

No Compromise?

However some analysts have speculated the ban may very well be a bluff, in an effort to get RIM to return to the negotiating table.

But the company seems determined not to compromise on the issue, as reports emerge that India and Kuwait are also concerned at the BlackBerry’s encryption.

“RIM operates in over 175 countries today and provides a security architecture that is widely accepted by security conscious customers and governments around the world. RIM respects both the regulatory requirements of government and the security and privacy needs of corporations and consumers,” the company said in an emailed statement to eWEEK Europe UK.

“RIM does not disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government, however RIM assures its customers that it is committed to continue delivering highly secure and innovative products that satisfy the needs of both customers and governments,” it added.

However, Reuters quoted a number of newspapers as saying that RIM would be willing to reach some form of compromise, although there was no official comment on this. The Reuters report said that RIM has agreed to allow Indian security authorities to monitor BlackBerry services, according to the Economic Times newspaper.

Reuters also said that, according to the Kuwaiti daily al-Jarida, RIM has given “initial approval” to block 3,000 porn sites at the request of Kuwait’s communications ministry.

iPhone Killer

Meanwhile, RIM is set to reveal its “iPhone killer” at a press event on Tuesday, with the launch of the new BlackBerry 9800, which will be the company’s first touchscreen smartphone running on the new BlackBerry 6 OS.

RIM is also thought to be developing a rival to the Apple iPad, with its own tablet device dubbed “BlackPad”, which is also expected to run the BlackBerry 6 operating system.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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