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RIM Standing Up to the Middle East

The UAE announced this morning, with the Saudis quickly following suit and neighboring countries expected to do the same, that they will block “key features” of Blackberry smartphone communication, specifically data that flows through RIM’s servers (email, web, BBM) because the data for those services, and this is unique to RIM devices, gets encrypted and these countries really like to be able to monitor everything. Attempts to reach a compromise with Research In Motion, the Blackberry guys whose devices are popular in the UAE, have failed, and in my book, proudly so on RIM’s part. The UAE pinned October 11th as the blackout date, declaring that it will stay that way until RIM cooperates (read: bends over).

So this reminds me of Google and China, the beginning of China’s ultimatum to shut down in the event of Google letting Chinese citizens see pictures of Tankman, and how their government couldn’t withstand the political pressure enough to follow through with their threats and with Google holding its position, eventually settling on a compromise with Beijing of linking, not redirecting, to Hong Kong’s uncensored Google, letting China save face, as is their wont, and letting Google bring a little free speech to China.

Now we’ve got a similar impasse between RIM and a growing list of Middle Eastern nations. Place your bets on whose stones are the biggest.

Doug Simmons