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RIM avoids BlackBerry ban in the UAE

RIM’s recent international brouhaha over the encrypted messaging services it offers to BlackBerry users all started back in June with the United Arab Emirates saying RIM’s offshare data storage services were illegal and would be banned October 11, 2010. It’s now October, and the United Arab Emirates’ Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has announced (Arabic) will be permitted to continue operating after October 11. In a brief statement, the TRA indicated BlackBerry services are now compatible with UAE telecommunications regulations. The agency noted that RIM had been cooperative in coming up with a solution, but offered no additional details.

Via email, RIM declined to discuss any details of the UAE workaround, saying only that it continued to work within the principles of customer rights and lawful government access it outlined in August.

RIM has maintained it does not have a secret back door or copies of customer encryption keys that would be necessary to provide security agencies or law enforcement personnel with decrypted copies of secured BlackBerry communications. However, a number of countries—including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and India—have threatened to shut down BlackBerry services, fearing the services could be used for secure communications by militants and terrorists. (Some countries, most notably India, plan to extend decrypted access requirements to services like Google and Skype.)

RIM was able to resolve issued in Saudi Arabia by locating BlackBerry servers within the country, rather than in overseas data centers. Recent reports from India indicate the company may be working with the government to provide real-time access to decrypted versions of secured communications.

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