Bad news for BlackBerry users in the Middle East

What seems to be a power play between RIM, one of the biggest manufacturers of smartphones in the world and the TRA, the telecommunications regulation body in the United Arab Emirates, is currently taking place in the Middle East.

The United Arab Emirates threatens to block some BlackBerry functions (email sending and IM delivering, Internet access), and Saudi Arabia plans to follow suit by preventing users to take advantage of the Blackberry-to-Blackberry IM service, since they want to – and can’t – keep such communications under surveillance.

According to the BBC, the TRA wants RIM to occasionally provide them with telecommunications data regarding certain users, since they are unable to access the computer servers where such (encrypted) data is sent automatically by the devices because the servers are located outside of those two countries.

If RIM fails to comply to their requests, it stands to loose some 900,000 users altogether, since it’s unlikely that they will continue to use a device with such heavily handicapped functions.

RIM issued a statement saying that it will not disclose details of the discussions that go on between the company and any country, but they assure its customers of their commitment to “delivering highly secure and innovative products that satisfy the needs of both customers and governments.”

As things stand now, the TRA has set a date – October 11 – for the suspension of the aforementioned services, but the negotiations between the government and RIM are still ongoing.




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