RIM averted a ban on its BlackBerry service in Saudi Arabia by guaranteeing the Kingdom the ability to monitor BlackBerry communications between users, officials said Saturday. RIM says its corporate users remain aloof from the government scrutiny, and only the lower-security consumer version will be subject to viewing by the Saudi government.
The agreement would likely involve placing a BlackBerry server inside Saudi Arabia to allow the government to monitor messages and allay official fears the service could be used for criminal purposes, the telecom regulatory officials said.
The deal could have wide-ranging implications for several other countries, including India and the United Arab Emirates, which have expressed similar concerns over how BlackBerry maker RIM handles data.
"Whatever Saudi Arabia does will be followed by other countries in the region," said John Sfakianakis, a BlackBerry user who is chief economist at the Riyadh-based Banque Saudi Fransi-Credit Agricole Group.