Saudi Arabia announces it will block BlackBerry service Friday

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Saudi Arabia, citing security concerns, revealed Tuesday its intention to block some of Research in Motion's BlackBerry services beginning Friday.



The news comes as the latest threat in a heated debate between RIM and several governments. As reported by Reuters, India and Kuwait have both objected to being unable to monitor Blackberry services. Last week, the United Arab Emirates threatened to block BlackBerry Messenger, email, and browsing services on Oct. 11 if not allowed access to encrypted messages.



Unlike Apple, RIM operates its own encrypted servers for handling data from its BlackBerry devices. Countering rumors that RIM had agreed to allow select governments to monitor BlackBerry data, the Canada-based company released a statement Tuesday reassuring customers that it remains unable to access user data.



"The BlackBerry security architecture for enterprise customers is based on a symmetric key system whereby the customer creates their own key and only the customer ever possesses a copy of their encryption key. RIM does not possess a "master key", nor does any "back door" exist in the system that would allow RIM or any third party to gain unauthorized access to the key or corporate data."



Saudi Arabia's threat arrived at a poor time for RIM. The announcement came just hours after a high-profile unveiling event for the new Blackberry Torch, a device touted by many as RIM's response to Apple's growing dominance of the smartphone market. The new touchscreen phone supports multi-touch gestures and sports a 480x360 pixel display, a 5 megapixel, and a slide-out keyboard.



During the launch event, a RIM executive predicted that few governments would make good on their threats. "I believe they'll have trouble pulling the trigger to shut down BlackBerry," Chief Technology Officer David Yach told Reuters. "Most governments in the world rely on BlackBerry."



Analysts covering Tuesday's drama think RIM has more at stake with the new Torch smartphone than in the Middle East. According to Reuters, Charter Equity Research analyst Ed Snyder believes that "the success or failure of the new smartphone is far more important for RIM's immediate fortunes than the Middle East security issues."



New data released by Nielsen shows that half of BlackBerry users want to switch to other smartphone operating systems for their next purchase. 29% of BlackBerry owners polled want to switch to the iPhone OS, while just 2% of iPhone owners want BlackBerry OS for their next purchase.



NASDAQ shares of RIM were down 2.5% at the close of market, although analysts blame disappointment with the BlackBerry Torch as the key factor, rather than fears of governmental opposition in the Middle East.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 66
    Any bets on how soon a commentator is going to blame this on Apple and its obnoxious lobbying efforts in Saudi Arabia, since they cant compete in a free market?
  • Reply 2 of 66
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,411member
    So locals in Saudi are now planning attacks against Saudi so they are gonna block Blackberry type devices? Perhaps they shoulda started back in 2001.
  • Reply 3 of 66
    esummersesummers Posts: 880member
    I doubt that they are looking at user data, but the fact that they probably could do it if they really wanted to doesn't sit well with governments. The fact that they control both the transport and security architecture makes this possible. Normally those two things are under separate authorities on the net. I think the more serious concern would be hacking or infiltration of RIM services.
  • Reply 4 of 66
    orlandoorlando Posts: 601member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by esummers View Post


    I doubt that they are looking at user data, but the fact that they probably could do it if they really wanted to doesn't sit well with governments.



    I don't believe the governments involved are worried about RiM spying on their citizen's data. Rather the opposite - these governments want to spy on their own citizens and RiM is preventing them.
  • Reply 5 of 66
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,152member
    They should just block the Internet
  • Reply 6 of 66
    Sssssssssssssssssssooooooooooooooooooo what!
  • Reply 7 of 66
    lostkiwilostkiwi Posts: 568member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Orlando View Post


    I don't believe the governments involved are worried about RiM spying on their citizen's data. Rather the opposite - these governments want to spy on their own citizens and RiM is preventing them.



    Of course! Any other rationale is just smoke and mirrors.

    I wonder how these regimes feel about the encryption on Skype conversations and IMs? It is quite strong and proprietary.
  • Reply 8 of 66
    kibitzerkibitzer Posts: 1,113member
    More than a few governments in the Middle East are quite insecure about radical and terrorist activity brewing right under their noses. They see a profound destabilizing threat in the existence of an impenetrable communications system within their borders that is used by al-Qa'ida and other groups. In so many parts of the world, balancing national security with the right of privacy is increasingly difficult.
  • Reply 9 of 66
    nitronitro Posts: 89member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post


    So locals in Saudi are now planning attacks against Saudi so they are gonna block Blackberry type devices? Perhaps they shoulda started back in 2001.



    Stick to the topic pal.



    there are countries discussing/implementing filters for all internet communication to and from. how this will impact users of smart phone is more of a concern than just addressing RIM.
  • Reply 10 of 66
    daveswdavesw Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post


    Any bets on how soon a commentator is going to blame this on Apple and its obnoxious lobbying efforts in Saudi Arabia, since they cant compete in a free market?





    LOL
  • Reply 11 of 66
    ktappektappe Posts: 746member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kibitzer View Post


    More than a few governments in the Middle East are quite insecure about radical and terrorist activity brewing right under their noses.



    Knowing Saudi Arabia, what they're really concerned about is women getting more rights, such as to communicate with one another and with unmarried men. Saudi Arabia has shown little to no interest in curbing Al Qaida, but they sure do crack down on women getting the slightest bit of equality.
  • Reply 12 of 66
    orlandoorlando Posts: 601member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kibitzer View Post


    More than a few governments in the Middle East are quite insecure about radical and terrorist activity brewing right under their noses. They see a profound destabilizing threat in the existence of an impenetrable communications system within their borders that is used by al-Qa'ida and other groups. In so many parts of the world, balancing national security with the right of privacy is increasingly difficult.



    It isn't just radicals and terrorists that scare governments. Moderates, campaigners for women's rights, human rights supporters, campaigners for freedom of speech, etc are also not exactly popular people with certain governments in the Middle East.



    To quote Thomas Jefferson: "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."
  • Reply 13 of 66
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,411member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nitro View Post


    Stick to the topic pal.



    there are countries discussing/implementing filters for all internet communication to and from. how this will impact users of smart phone is more of a concern than just addressing RIM.



    A. Not your pal.



    B. The article focuses on Saudi and their security concerns.



    C. The article states that this block doesn't apply to smart phones like the iPhone which does not inherently use encryption for comms.



    D. I'm dubious of anyone saying they want to presume guilt so they can better protect.
  • Reply 14 of 66
    mennomenno Posts: 854member
    So these countries can't spy on blackberry's user data...



    In my book that's a very positive mark for Blackberry.



    I don't think it will hinder them that much. Companies looking for security for their handsets will think better of blackberry now, that a country had to resort to blocking the service since RIM wouldn't give them access.



    So again, what does this have to do with Apple, and how is this a bad thing? (unless you want to make an argument AGAINST user privacy)
  • Reply 15 of 66
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,094member
    As long as this somehow benefits Apple, it's OK with me.
  • Reply 16 of 66
    Apple's growing dominance of the smartphone market



    HAHAHA!



    3rd in sales in the most recent quarter is "growing dominance"?



    Yeah, and the Cubs are going to win the World Series this year.
  • Reply 17 of 66
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,411member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fredsnodgrass View Post


    Apple's growing dominance of the smartphone market



    HAHAHA!



    3rd in sales in the most recent quarter is "growing dominance"?



    Yeah, and the Cubs are going to win the World Series this year.



    The first mobile phone I owned in the early 90s was a motorola. Apple has been in the game 3'ish years.



    You used your first post for this?
  • Reply 18 of 66
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ktappe View Post


    Knowing Saudi Arabia, what they're really concerned about is women getting more rights, such as to communicate with one another and with unmarried men. Saudi Arabia has shown little to no interest in curbing Al Qaida, but they sure do crack down on women getting the slightest bit of equality.



    It has nothing to do with women rights or human rights. Those governments are worried about their citizens speaking up and expressing their opinion. This will lead to coordination in politics and ideology among their people ending in instability and the possibility of change in power. Monarchy is fragile and they know it. Without absolute control over their people they will lose everything. It is all about power.
  • Reply 19 of 66
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    Any dictator with decent technical advisors would know that blocking RIM's communications won't do a thing to stop people from communicating using alternate secure methods over the Internet, even with Blackberrys. Anybody who suggested that blocking RIM was going to be at all helpful while leaving the rest of the Internet intact, ought to have their head cut off.
  • Reply 20 of 66
    postulantpostulant Posts: 1,270member
    I bet suicide bombers are dying to get their hands on the BlackBerry Torch.
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