RIM responds to Blackberry ban brigade

Research in Motion (RIM) has finally answered back to the governments which are planning to ban its Blackberry devices.

The statement by co-CEO of the company, Michael Lazaridis coincides with Indonesia’s telecommunications watchdog jumping on the ban Blackberry bandwagon, claiming that if RIM isn’t cooperative it too will stop services.

RIM is being pressured by authorities in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India and other countries to provide greater access to the encrypted information sent by its devices.

In an interview with the The Wall Street Journal Mr Lazaridis complained that officials in countries seeking to ban BlackBerry service are unfairly trying to score political points.

“This is about the internet,” Mr. Lazaridis said. “Everything on the internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can’t deal with the internet, they should shut it off.”

Although he wouldn’t comment on the details of negotiations with individual countries, he said, the company is holding discussions with the regulatory authorities of various governments in an attempt to persuade them that the internet requires secure communications.

He hopes this, plus education on how the internet works, will get them to back off on demands that they be allowed to monitor customers’ traffic.

“We have dealt with this before,” Mr. Lazaridis said. “This will get resolved. And it will get resolved if there is a chance for rational discussion.

“We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the internet,” he said. “A lot of these people don’t have Ph.Ds, and they don’t have a degree in computer science.”
Earlier this week Saudi Arabia took the official line on the Blackberry claiming it would ban all services to businesses or individuals this Saturday, after deciding that the company did not comply with Saudi regulations.

Egypt also said this week it would look into a possible ban following fears of security. According to local Egyptian media, the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority said: “The producer received all necessary approvals to sell the phones in Egypt, but this will not prevent the devices from being banned should they indeed pose a security threat.”

The final decision on any ban will only made after investigation, the reports said. Kuwait also has security concerns over Blackberry services, which it is currently investigating.

And now Indonesia’s telecommunications watchdog has said it may ban Blackberry services if the company isn’t cooperative and fails to set up a representative office and local server so that encrypted information sent by the smartphones won’t have to be routed through RIM’s overseas computers.

Heru Sutadi, a member of the agency, which is known as Badan Regulasi Telekomunikasi Indonesia, said: “So far, we haven’t decided anything but we may ban BlackBerry services in Indonesia if Research In Motion isn’t cooperative.”

He said that if Blackberry didn’t cooperate there is a possibility that Indonesia may follow the lead of Saudi Arabia’s telecom regulator and ban the device.