RIM might have announced their latest smartphone yesterday, but don’t plan on bringing it with you if you’re traveling to Saudi Arabia any time soon. Starting Friday, Saudi Arabia will ban BlackBerry Messenger usage within the country over security concerns.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission told service operators that a ban on BlackBerry services would start on August 6, but later told Reuters that the ban would currently only be for BlackBerry Messenger, RIM’s text messaging service. Officials cited the country’s inability to monitor message data as a primary reason for the ban.
The ban follows similar issues between RIM and several other countries in the region over RIM’s data encryption. According to the Times of India, the country wants RIM to give them access to monitor emails and text messages, citing national security concerns. Earlier this week, the United Arab Emirates also announced plans to block BlackBerry services beginning in October, citing similar concerns.
In a statement, RIM said that they aren’t capable of producing any encrypted data or an encryption key because of their system’s limitations.
“The BlackBerry enterprise solution was designed to preclude RIM, or any third party, from reading encrypted information under any circumstances since RIM does not store or have access to the encrypted data,” it said. “RIM cannot accommodate any request for a copy of a customer’s encryption key, since at no time does RIM, or any wireless network operator or any third party, ever possess a copy of the key.”