Saudis call off BlackBerry ban

Saudi Arabia's telecommunications regulator decides against prohibition on BlackBerry services, citing RIM's efforts to meet some of the country's regulatory requirements.

Research In Motion

The BlackBerry is still open for business in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi communications regulator said Tuesday that it has decided to call off the ban on BlackBerry messenger services following efforts by Research In Motion to satisify some of the country's regulatory requirements.

The decision came because of "positive developments in the completion of part of the regulatory requirements on the part of service providers," the country's Communication and Information Technology Commission, or CITC, said in a statement e-mailed to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) and other news sources.

The agreement between the two parties came after the Saudi government announced that it would ban key BlackBerry services starting last Friday but then postponed a final decision until Monday. In line with the United Arab Emirates , India, and other nations, Saudi Arabia has complained that the tight, encrypted security used by RIM in the BlackBerry network prevents it from monitoring communications channels that could be used by those who might threaten national security.

The CITC didn't reveal the specific regulatory requirements that RIM satisfied. But the Journal and other sources have reported that RIM has agreed to put a BlackBerry server in the country so that the Saudis could directly access customer data. If so, this move would set a precedent as RIM has traditionally housed its servers in its home base of Canada where access is off limits to other countries and third parties.

The Saudi government added that it decided to allow the BlackBerry messenger services as it "continues to work with service providers to complete the remainder of the regulatory requirements," according to the Journal.

In response to the complaints and threats of BlackBerry bans from around the world, RIM has insisted that its network data is encrypted and that no one, not even the company itself, knows the encryption key. In a fiery interview last week RIM CEO Michael Lazaridis criticized the countries making the threats but held out hope that agreements could be reached with each of them.

 

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