RIM Reaches Saudi Deal Over BlackBerry Ban

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Research in Motion has reportedly avoided a ban by agreeing to let the Saudi government monitor email data

Research in Motion has agreed to install a server in Saudi Arabia that will allow that country’s authorities to monitor data on BlackBerry devices.

The move, as reported by the Associated Press, came amid pressure on the Canadian smartphone maker to open up its encrypted data services. Last week RIM was facing a possible ban with the United Arab Emirates announcing that from October, it would block the sending of emails, accessing the Internet, and delivering instant messages on Blackberry handsets.

Saudi Arabia had also announced that from 6 August, it would prevent the use of the Blackberry-to-Blackberry instant messaging service. RIM denied that it was willing to compromise over the issue, but it later emerged that it was holding ‘last ditch’ talks with Saudi Arabia and even to the last minute was ‘resisting Saudi demands.’

Local Server

However according to the Associated Press, the deal means that Research in Motion will install a server in the kingdom, allowing the Saudi government to monitor BlackBerry data, an official said.

There are as yet no details as to the exact nature of these monitoring capabilities. It remains to be seen whether the reported deal will be followed by similar compromises with other nations, such as the UAE. And the United Arab Emirates is not alone in the matter, with concern been expressed by India and Indonesia that the BlackBerry may be used by terrorists or to violate national law.

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Turkey’s telecommunications regulator has reportedly said there are “serious” security weaknesses related to BlackBerry services in the country, adding that it has set up a committee to look into the matter. Meanwhile the Telecoms Regulatory Authority in the Lebanon has said it will assess security concerns about the device.

“This is prompted by the increase of security issues that have been found with the telecommunications networks in Lebanon,” Imad Hoballah, the chair of the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority told French news agency AFP.

“This is related to the ability of law enforcement agencies to access the data as may be required by law,” he added.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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