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RIM Bending Over to Saudis

Six days ago I ran a piece about Middle Eastern countries who are lining up to ban BlackBerry web, email and Messenger service in their respective territories, mandates and deadlines in place with various carriers because RIM wouldn’t hand over the keys to the encrypted data Blackberries relay through RIM’s servers in Canada (which they claim they don’t even have themselves for corporate users, however consumer accounts are fair game to governments and their law enforcement agencies). RIM decided to stand their ground, knowing that many of their customers, particularly those in countries like these, use Blackberries because of the elevated level of privacy versus that of other smartphones and the elevated level of digital voyeurism and drastic Internet censorship of these nations.

I had really hoped it was going to play out like Google and China (for which I maintain Google was victorious). I was rooting for RIM but this morning the AP reported that according to a Saudi official on the condition of anonymity RIM and the Saudi government have a deal in place to let the Saudis eavesdrop by means of a Blackberry server currently being installed and tested inside the country over which the Saudis would have, presumably, full control. In exchange, no blackout. There are roughly 750K Blackberry users over there and a whole lot more in nearby countries who’ve put up a hissy fit over this like the UAE, who like the Saudis laid down a BlackBalling deadline, which I see no reason not to assume are going to get their own custom Blackberry server too. India’s making noise too (I’m told they’re in Asia by the way).

RIM declined to comment. Pussies.

Doug Simmons