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Indonesia, too, may ban BlackBerries

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates both have BlackBerry bans in the works. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates both have BlackBerry bans in the works. (Bloomberg News)
Associated Press / August 5, 2010

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia said yesterday it is considering following the lead of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in banning BlackBerry services, adding to pressure on device maker Research in Motion Ltd. to give governments greater access to data.

Gatot Dewabroto, spokesman for the Ministry of Communication and Information, wants RIM to set up a server locally so encrypted information sent by the phones will not have to be routed through the Canadian company’s overseas computers.

“We don’t know whether data being sent through BlackBerrys can be intercepted or read by third parties outside the country,’’ he said, expressing concern that information could be used by criminals or spies.

The announcement came hours after Saudi Arabia said its telecom regulator had ordered mobile operators across the kingdom to halt BlackBerry services as of tomorrow. The United Arab Emirates, too, plans to shut down e-mail, messaging, and Web browsing on BlackBerrys starting in October. India is in talks with RIM over how data is managed on the devices.

Analysts say RIM’s expansion into fast-growing emerging markets is threatening to set off a wave of regulatory challenges, as the device maker’s commitment to keep corporate e-mail secure rubs up against the desires of local law enforcement.

RIM has said discussions with the more than 175 countries where it operates are private. It does offer help to governments, but says its technology does not allow it, or any third party, to read encrypted e-mails sent by corporate BlackBerry users. (The consumer version has a lower level of security.)

The e-mails are, however, unencrypted on the servers of corporate clients, and can be obtained from the companies.