Saudis: BlackBerry Service Can Continue

Deal apparently involves local servers that government could monitor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 10, 2010 5:12 AM CDT
Saudis: BlackBerry Service Can Continue
A Saudi customer is served in a mobile shop at a market in the capital Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010.    (STR)

Saudi Arabia's telecommunications regulator said today it would allow BlackBerry services to continue in the kingdom, citing "positive developments" with the device's Canadian manufacturer. The announcement staves off, at least for now, a potential ban of Research in Motion's BlackBerry Messenger service in the country—a step officials had said was possible because of national security concerns.

The security concerns cited by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, among other countries, hinge on the way BlackBerry data is sent and managed. The data is encrypted and stored on RIM's servers in Canada, making it extremely difficult for local governments to monitor as it doesn't pass through domestic servers. The plan being discussed involved placing a BlackBerry server in the country, which already has strong controls on the Internet to block morally offensive and political content and maintains strict controls on freedom of expression. A Saudi newspaper reported yesterday that testing of the server was under way. (More BlackBerry ban stories.)

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