Saudis grant RIM a BlackBerry reprieve

Saudi Arabian telecommunication officials are reportedly working with RIM to avoid a ban on BlackBerry Messenger services within the country
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor on

Saudi Arabia has decided not to block BlackBerry Messenger services as it works with RIM to find a suitable solution, according to online reports.

The Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) issued a statement on Tuesday confirming that the plan to block BlackBerry Messenger services in the country has been put on hold, according to reports from the Associated Press and Wall Street Journal.

"In light of the positive developments towards addressing some of the organisational requirements... the commission decided to allow BlackBerry Messenger service to continue," said the CITC in a short statement.

The commission did not give details of what measures are being taken to satisfy the authorities, but an anonymous source told the Associated Press over the weekend that the plans involve placing RIM servers inside the country to route the data before being sent to Canada.

The Saudi commission's threat to block the messaging service on BlackBerry smartphones first surfaced last week following concerns that the encryption and transmission of data to RIM's server in Canada posed a security threat as it made it difficult to monitor transmissions.

With the block initially planned for 6 August, RIM was given a 48-hour reprieve to work with Saudi officials on finding a solution, which it reportedly did leading to the further suspension of the ban.

On Tuesday, a BlackBerry spokesman reiterated the company's previous statement to ZDNet UK.

"There is only one BlackBerry enterprise solution available to our customers around the world, and it remains unchanged in all of the markets we operate in. RIM cooperates with all governments with a consistent standard and the same degree of respect. 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," according to the RIM spokesperson.

A number of other mid-east countries, such as Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, have expressed concerns over BlackBerry devices. UAE has said that it will issue a blanket ban on BlackBerry's encrypted messenger, email and web browsing services from 11 October.

Editorial standards