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Saudi Arabia Blocks BlackBerry Messaging

BlackBerry users in Saudi Arabia report that the country’s three wireless companies have suspended BlackBerry messaging service. On Tuesday, the Saudi Arabian government announced its intention to do so on grounds of national security: “The manufacturer of the devices [RIM] couldn’t meet the regulatory requirements of the commission and it is not in accordance with the regulations and conditions of licenses issued to service providers, at its present state.”

The phones can still make and receive regular calls.

Saudi Arabia is RIM’s largest market in the Middle East, with roughly 700,000 users; any hope for BBM to come back?The Saudi government’s main beef with BlackBerry messaging concerns its encryption; the government wants to be able to get users’ encryption keys and monitor their messages when it feels it has the need to do so on the grounds of national security. According to Reuters, “RIM might resolve the Saudi situation by locating a server in the kingdom to handle some of the BlackBerry network’s encrypted communications”; at that, “The Canadian company said on Wednesday it has never provided anything unique to the government of one country and cannot accommodate any request for a copy of a customer’s encryption key.”

(via BGR, Reuters)

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