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RIM holds talks with UAE and Saudi Arabia

Hillary Clinton among officials in security discussions

Research in Motion (RIM), along with US and Canadian officials, are holding talks with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia over security concerns about the BlackBerry smartphone.

Saudi Arabia revealed it plans to block the BlackBerry Messenger service from today, while the UAE will suspend the function in October. Both nations said they were banning the service because due to the way it is encrypted, the authorise in the two countries are unable to monitor and trace the communications.

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is leading the talks with the UAE, while other US and Canadian officials are in discussions with authorities in Saudi Arabia.

The BlackBerry Messenger function is expected to be blocked in Saudi Arabia today

"We are taking time to consult and analyse the full the range of interests and issues at stake, because we know that there is a legitimate security concern. But there is also a legitimate right of free use and access," Clinton said.

"So I think we will be pursuing both technical and expert discussions as we go forward."

The UAE Telecoms Regulatory Authority told the BBC Blackberry was the only data service operating in the UAE that sees data "immediately exported off-shore, where it is managed by a foreign, commercial organisation".

"In their current form, certain Blackberry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns for the UAE. This is related to the ability of law enforcement agencies to access the data as may be required by law."

Online newspaper Al-Hayat reported that RIM is considering installing a server that will handle some of the encrypted information in the country.

"RIM showed a degree of flexibility that has not been there over the past three months. Progress is being made. We started debating the technicalities of new set-ups," a source told Reuters.

However, this has yet to be confirmed by RIM.

"Canada has been working closely with the officials at Research In Motion as well as with governments on the ground to assist them in dealing with these challenges," Canadian Trade Minister Peter Van Loan said.

RIM unveiled the BlackBerry Torch 9800 this week. The hybrid BlackBerry handset combines a Qwerty keyboard and a 3.2in capacitive touchscreen display.

See also: Flash for BlackBerry still a work in progress


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