The United Arab Emirates has outlined plans to block BlackBerry e-mail, messaging and web browsing services. Following suit, Saudi Arabia is ordering its mobile operators to halt BlackBerry services throughout the kingdom starting this Friday. India has already notified BlackBerry maker in no uncertain terms that it must share its data with the government’s intelligence agencies to continue operations in the country. Further to this, Lebanon and Indonesia have also joined the list of countries concerned about the BlackBerry network and started assessing its services.
The governments of various countries cite a potential security threat because encrypted data sent on the devices is moved abroad, where it cannot be monitored for illegal activity. Thus, messages, SMSes, emails sent through BlackBerry devices cannot be monitored by country’s intelligence agencies for security purposes. Thus the cause of concern is that BlackBerry services can be used by militants for communication without any risk of interception.
It must be noted that though there seems to be an ongoing controversy, both the sides (BlackBerry and governments) do not want to ban the service in any of the countries. BlackBerry devices and its services are highly popular with corporate clients and are fast gaining market share in smartphones market. All the above countries are rich pastures for the company and hence they do not want to lose out upon the market opportunity. Thus, it would be in the best interest of everyone for RIM and other involved entities to come out with a solution to the controversy at the earliest. RIM has already offered a solution to the Indian government. (See details here).
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