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Indonesia is home to over 1 million BlackBerry smart phones. But government officials are considering following in the UAE and Saudi Arabia's footsteps, banning Blackberry services -- in effect blocking use of the devices.  (Source: Good News From Indonesia)

RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis says that his company refuses to compromise its customers security, but it is negotiating with India and Indonesia to try to reach and understanding.  (Source: Idea City Toronto)
Countries claim RIM could be handing information to terrorists or criminals

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have both banned services to Canadian Research in Motion's Blackberry citing security risks.  The Saudi Arabia ban took effect today, while the UAE ban will roll out in October.  Saudi Arabian officials complained, "This service might be used to serve terrorism."

Critics of the ban say that citizens have the right to privacy -- even from the government.  At issue is the fact that RIM encrypts its communications so well, that it's hard to remotely gain access to it.  This has frustrated government officials of certain countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Gatot Dewabroto, spokesman for the Ministry of Communication and Information in Indonesia, speaking with the 
Associated Press, today announced that his country was considering a ban on BlackBerry services.  He comments, "We don't know whether data being sent through BlackBerrys can be intercepted or read by third parties outside the country."  

Currently India is also considering a ban.  That means that two of the largest developing nations may cut Blackberry access.  Like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, they cite "security risks" -- which essentially short for their frustration that RIM doesn't want to help compromise its customers.

Responding in an interview with 
The Wall Street Journal, Research In Motion Ltd. co-CEO Michael Lazaridis was unapologetic, blasting his company's critics.  He remarked, "This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off."

RIM, based out of Waterloo, Ontario, finds itself in a precarious position with the bans.  If it doesn't give in, it may lose global market share, at a time its already struggling to release competitive hardware amid hot products like the iPhone 4 and HTC EVO 4G Android smart phone.  On the other hand, if it gives in to the foreign demands, it would likely seriously damage its strong reputation for security, which has helped it sell scores of smart phones to businesses around the world.

Still, Mr. Lazaridis is convinced he can negotiate other countries out of further service severances.  He states, "We have dealt with this before.  This will get resolved. And it will get resolved if there is a chance for rational discussion."

Mohammed Al Ghanem, director general of the U.A.E.'s telecom regulator, says the decision "to suspend certain BlackBerry services from October 11 is final," but adds, "We remain open to discussions in order that an acceptable, regulatory-compliant solution might be developed and applied."

Mr. Lazaridis clarifies that his company is happy to cooperate with court-ordered requests to intercept individuals communications.  In these cases his company will hand them the encrypted stream, but will not help decrypt it, which he feels would be violating his customers' privacy.  He states, "I would give them the encrypted stream.  It would have to be like a wiretap."

He adds, "We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science."

Mr. Lazaridis also does not have a Ph.D in computer science.  In fact he dropped out of college in 1979 to pursue entrepreneurial ventures, founding RIM in 1984.  In 2000 he was awarded an honorary degree.  While he might not have a Ph.D, he could hold his own with most computer science and computer engineering Ph.Ds, having filed for over 50 patents over his prolific career.



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i smell a conspiracy
By Lord 666 on 8/5/2010 9:23:04 AM , Rating: 2
Wonder if some well heeled egotistical and diabolical individual apprached the countries and made a deal? Push out RIM on the grounds they are too secure and in return, will give your schools some Macs and a ton of iPads. Maybe throw in a sweat shop factory and some rubber bumpers.

Yeah, that's the ticket!




RE: i smell a conspiracy
By wuZheng on 8/5/2010 9:48:05 AM , Rating: 4
As much as I don't like the turtle-necked one. I must say, thats pretty crazy stuff you're on there without using the /sarcasm tag. I wouldn't put anticompetitive acts past Apple, but I don't think they'd go so far as to try and convince other countries that because the consumer is secure, the nation is at risk?


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By MrBlastman on 8/5/2010 9:50:49 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not so sure it is a conspiracy, too many languages/regions involved here. I think it more has to do with their religious governments than anything else (except India--which is a secular state).

India surprises me so I'm still not sure why they'd do this, other than following suit through paranoia. Science doesn't rule these regions of the world so it is very likely they could be blowing things out of proportion.


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By Murloc on 8/5/2010 10:06:54 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think it's about religious governments.
India is worried about terrorists too.
All these countries have some sort of problem with terrorists, and they are culturally different so maybe they don't value privacy as much as european cultures do.


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By MrBlastman on 8/5/2010 10:09:44 AM , Rating: 4
The minute you start reducing civil liberties because of fear of terrorism, the terrorists win (Counterstrike voice).


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By chboy20022002 on 8/5/2010 10:56:31 AM , Rating: 2
I thought the US can snoop on the blackberry data provided they have a court order. Is it not the case? Why not give the same access to other countries not just provide the unencrypted data.


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By Yawgm0th on 8/5/2010 11:00:55 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I thought the US can snoop on the blackberry data provided they have a court order. Is it not the case? Why not give the same access to other countries not just provide the unencrypted data.
Legally, yes. Authorities can't do it legally at all without a court order. But from a technical standpoint, even WITH a court order, they still need to find a way to snoop the traffic.


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By monkeyman1140 on 8/5/2010 5:41:57 PM , Rating: 2
India may be considered a secular state, but it has a 20% muslim population, it still adheres to wierd ancient cultural mores like discrimination based on a person's last name, and a caste system which is ridiculous in this day and age.
Plus the country is notoriously prudish, not allowing kissing on TV nor even a little skin, so you see women bathing in full garb in shows.

Obviously they're having lots of sex though, there's 1 billion people in India, who are they fooling.


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By subhajit on 8/6/2010 6:58:14 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
not allowing kissing on TV nor even a little skin, so you see women bathing in full garb in shows

Are you kidding? I grew up watching shows like Baywatch. Only thing that is not allowed is nudity but that's true for lot of countries.


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By thrust2night on 8/6/2010 9:56:54 AM , Rating: 2
Is having a 20% Muslim population a bad thing? The caste system and discrimination is usually done in rural areas where people are not educated and it has to do with Hindus who are the majority. Regardless, I grew up watching things like Baywatch, Oprah, MTV Grind, etc. The kissing on TV was frowned upon in Indian movies and Indian TV shows, but has changed tremendously in the last 10-15 years and it is now very common to see Indians make out in a movie.


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By nafhan on 8/5/2010 9:58:20 AM , Rating: 3
I'd say a simpler explination is just that RIM is more secure and is unwilling to work with national governments to compromise that security.
This does show how much Apple (and others) are willing to compromise their security. Otherwise, they'd likely be getting the boot as well...


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By micksh on 8/5/2010 11:09:23 AM , Rating: 2
RE: i smell a conspiracy
By micksh on 8/5/2010 11:21:21 AM , Rating: 2
In some countries, like in Russia, Blackberry servers are installed locally so local government can control them. For some reasons RIM refused to install them in UAE, hence they are banned.

I don't know what the deal with EU, Indonesia and India is. It's possible that they suddenly discovered something wrong with Blackberry services, for example, that CIA has access to all data, or something like that.


RE: i smell a conspiracy
By AstroCreep on 8/5/2010 1:29:55 PM , Rating: 2
In Soviet Russia, Blackberry controls you!


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