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Saudi Arabia Bans Blackberrys

Saudi Arabia Bans Blackberrys

In a region where mobile phones are often the primary means of remote communication, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has decided to ban the use of Blackberrys, one of the most popular smartphones on the market.  The ban comes after Reality In Motion (RIM), the company that manufactures Blackberry smartphones, declined the request of Saudi Arabia and other countries to allow them better access to encrypted data sent via Blackberrys.

RIM says that it will not give special considerations to some governments over others, arguing that they do not release encrypted data to any government. The United Arab Emirates announced that it would prohibit most Blackberry service starting October 11, after a government security incident involving the devices.

India is also on the list of countries asking RIM to make it easier for governments to monitor Blackberry data, in order to catch plots of terrorists attacks, although many countries in the West and East have used monitoring for other purposes as well.

The Saudi ban will come into effect on August 6, and the announcement comes after the major wireless providers in KSA announced that business was booming. Presumably, the ban will remain in effect until the government either finds a way to circumvent the encryption, or the Canadian-based RIM caves to international pressure. It is estimated that the UAE has at least 500,000 Blackberry users, while KSA has around 750,000.

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If RIM did give in to the pressure of those countries opposed to the strict encryption methods, it could actually alienate themselves from much larger markets, where Blackberry users prefer the device, specifically because of its promise of preserving user privacy.

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I am a librarian with 8 years of experience in information architecture, technology, free and open source software, and electronic publishing. I have written hundreds of articles on topics ranging from information technology to politics. I also write fiction novels, short stories, and fables.

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