Canadian company Research in Motion (RIM) has been dealing with the threat that its BlackBerry smartphones would be banned in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India and other countries because of security concerns. BlackBerries promise a “secure” e-mail service and some foreign governments claimed that RIM didn’t comply with regulations concerning government access to smartphone information.
Earlier, NPR’s “All Things Considered” reported on the controversy in these countries that seek access to the security codes for RIM BlackBerry’s services. “By encrypting electronic communication, these governments say, a BlackBerry makes it possible for criminals or terrorists to conspire without the knowledge of the authorities.” But, political demonstrators say the fact that they have the privacy to organize without government surveillance via BlackBerry’s secure e-mail service is necessary for their civil liberties protests.
Now the Wall Street Journal reports that the UAE has dropped its threats to ban BlackBerry use:
The U.A.E.’s telecommunications regulator didn’t detail what RIM had done to bring BlackBerry services into compliance days before a deadline. Initially it had said the way RIM handled data hindered the government’s ability to monitor it—and thus threatened national security.
One long-standing issue has been RIM’s system of processing information through a handful of secure server networks—the biggest of which is in the Canadian company’s home base of Waterloo, Ontario. That system means governments like the U.A.E.’s don’t have jurisdiction over those servers and the information that flows through them, making it harder to access that data. […]
RIM said in a statement that it can’t discuss confidential regulatory matters. The company said it continues to work with governments on matters of access to information, as long as the procedures are legal, don’t change the “security architecture” for corporate clients and don’t demand more of RIM than they do of other companies. RIM also said it doesn’t cut special deals with specific countries. […]
The agreement will bring relief to around 500,000 BlackBerry users in the U.A.E., the Arab world’s second-largest economy, who were kept guessing whether their devices would still support their email and instant messages next week.