RIM to filter Indonesia Web traffic

Research In Motion says it will comply with regulations that require it to block all pornography to Indonesian customers. It must start filtering content by January 21.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Research In Motion will block pornography accessed through its smartphones in Indonesia.

The company announced today that it will develop a "prompt, compliant filtering solution" for Indonesia BlackBerry users by the country's January 21 deadline. If RIM doesn't start filtering out pornographic sites through its service by that date, the company could find itself in hot water with the Indonesian government.

According to Bloomberg, which first reported the story and spoke with officials in Indonesia, the country could block BlackBerry Web browsing altogether if RIM doesn't filter pornography.

Indonesia was quick to point out to Bloomberg that it wasn't alone in battling with RIM over Web-access regulations. Heru Sutadi of the Indonesian Telecommunications Regulatory Body told Bloomberg that "Middle Eastern countries are also being hard on RIM."

Last year, RIM faced threats of service bans from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over those countries' demand to have access to communications on BlackBerry devices. The company's strict encryption and security features make it nearly impossible for governments to monitor communications through its smartphones. The countries contend that by not providing access to BlackBerry communications, RIM is putting them at risk of terrorism.

Reports later surfaced, claiming RIM was able to come to terms with Saudi Arabia by reportedly installing a server in the country to allow the government to monitor communications. However, RIM has said publicly that it has never entered into special arrangements with countries, and it has no way to provide governments with the data they desire, due to the encryption it employs.

That argument has been echoed numerous times in RIM's battles with India.

Back in August, the Indian government threatened to shut down BlackBerry service if RIM didn't provide it with access to e-mail, instant messages, and Web browsing data. RIM didn't give in to those demands at the time, and said that it didn't have a "master key" that would allow the company to provide governments with access to communications, even if it wanted to. The company also said that it didn't believe it should be singled out.

"This challenge can only be truly overcome if the information and communications technology industry comes together as a whole to work with the government of India," RIM said in a statement. "The use of strong encryption in wireless technology is not unique to the BlackBerry platform. It is unquestionably an industrywide matter."

But that hasn't stopped India from continuing to take aim at the company. It created a new deadline for the end of January for RIM to offer access to communications. The government also started negotiating with companies that use BlackBerry devices to circumvent RIM's objections and gain access to their communications.