RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Some Saudis are trying to sell their BlackBerrys ahead of a ban on the smart phone's messenger service in the kingdom — but with few willing to buy, they're having to slash prices.
The Saudi telecoms regulatory agency announced earlier this week the service would be halted Friday. By mid-afternoon, it was still operating. One Saudi newspaper, Okaz, said the halt would begin at the end of the day, at midnight. Saudi officials were not available Friday, a weekend day, to confirm.
The kingdom is one of a number of countries expressing concern that the device is a security threat because encrypted information sent on the phones is routed through overseas computers — making it impossible for local governments to monitor. The United Arab Emirates has announced it will ban BlackBerry e-mail, messaging and Web browsing starting in October, and Indonesia and India are also demanding greater control over the data.
On Friday, Lebanon said it is also looking into whether BlackBerry use raises security concerns there — in part due to allegations that Israeli spies are trying to infiltrate phone networks in Lebanon. This summer, Lebanese authorities charged two employees at the state-owned Alfa mobile phone company with spying for Israel. A third suspect worked for the landline operator Ogero.
Lebanon's main concern is "the ability of our security and judicial groups to access the data ... when it is required by law and when the security situation requires it," Imad Hoballah, the acting head of the Telecoms Regulatory Authority, told The Associated Press in an interview in Beirut.