RIM Dodges BlackBerry Ban in UAE
Research In Motion sidestepped a service ban for its popular BlackBerry smartphone in the United Arab Emirates today after the company and the government's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) agreed on new services terms.
The ban, which would have terminated service for the devices on Oct. 11, is just the latest in a series of potential blocks RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) has managed to avoid in the past few months.
In a statement released by the TRA, the agency confirmed that all BlackBerry services will remain intact on Oct. 11 and that RIM's services are now "compatible with the framework legislation."
The TRA did not elaborate on what, if any, new procedures, technologies or equipment RIM had provided in order to bring itself into compliance with the government's telecommunications regulations. RIM counts more than 500,000 BlackBerry users in the UAE.
In August, RIM dodged a similar ban in India when that country's Ministry of Home Affairs and Department of Telecommunications said it would take 60 days to review a RIM proposal to unsure service in one of the company's largest foreign markets.
The Indian government, along with the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, initially wanted to be able to access and monitor mobile communications traffic for national security purposes, including the traffic on RIM's BlackBerry service.
Indian officials with the Ministry of Home Affairs said RIM had agreed to locate one of its servers within the country. It also agreed to place a server in Saudi Arabia.
It's unclear if a similar deal was cut with officials in the UAE, and RIM officials were not immediately available for comment.
Company officials have continued to hold firm to their position that regardless of the country in which they operate, wireless carriers must be technology and vendor neutral, allowing no greater access to BlackBerry consumer services than regulators already impose on RIM's competitors and other similar communications technology companies.
"RIM assures its customers that it genuinely tries to be as cooperative as possible with governments in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements, while also preserving the lawful needs of citizens and corporations," the company said in a statement.
It added that it would make no changes to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server because it's the same for all carriers around the world and, more importantly, RIM claims it cannot provide its customers' encryption keys.