RIM bows to Saudi pressure on BlackBerry security

The company behind the BlackBerry smartphone is reportedly in talks with Saudi Arabian authorities over an agreement that would allow kingdom officials to intercept messages sent via the devices, news agency Reuters has reported.

Research in Motion, the Canadian company the makes the devices, is close to a deal that would see it share the unique user and pin codes for each BlackBerry in the Gulf state in return for Saudi Arabia withdrawing threats to ban the smartphones entirely.

The report comes just days after RIM claimed that its policy was not to compromise its service in the face of pressure from a number of national governments.

In a statement released just last week, the company said: “Any claims that we provide, or have ever provided, something unique to the government of one country that we have not offered to the governments of all countries, are unfounded”.

If the Saudi deal goes through, RIM may have to offer a similar concession to the Indian government. Indian officials also on Tuesday that it may also shut down BlackBerry services, citing similar security fears.

Saudi Arabia and India have been joined by the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait in expressing concerns over the fact that BlackBerry data is often stored outside of the host country. India is also said to be highly concerned about the use of mobile devices by Pakistani militants to organise attacks.

RIM was not available to comment on these latest developments.

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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