Recently, foreign governments have been trying to pressure the BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion (RIM), to give in to their cellular regulatory requirements. These requirements include giving the government access to BlackBerry users’ messages. RIM has refused to give in to this pressure, despite the foreign governments’ plans to cease the BlackBerry network service within their countries.
These countries include Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia shut down the BlackBerry network yesterday when the country’s leaders demanded that local cell phone providers stop the service. On Sunday, the United Arab Emirates announced plans to block BlackBerry services starting in October. Other governments have also expressed national security concerns because RIM does not allow them to monitor communications between BlackBerry users who could potentially be criminals or terrorists.
There were rumors going around that RIM executives granted concessions to certain governments to allow them to read BlackBerry customer’s messages. The RIM founder and co-chief, Mike Lazaradis completely denied these rumors. He said, “That’s absolutely ridiculous and patently false.”
RIM prides itself on its security and is not giving in to the foreign governments’ requests. Lazaridis commented on the request to dismantle the security measures. He said, “We’re not going to compromise that. That’s what made BlackBerry the No. 1 solution worldwide.” Lazaridis wanted to reassure customers, so he and RIM issued a statement, which said, “customers of the BlackBerry enterprise solution can maintain confidence in the integrity of the security architecture without fear of compromise.”
Lazaradis sympathizes for the national concerns of certain nations but he cannot compromise the security of others for this. The encryption in BlackBerry devices is important for many things, including electronic money transfers, teleconferencing and e-commerce transactions. Taking away the encryption could severely harm companies that need to perform these kinds of tasks. Lazaridis said, “If you were to ban strong encryption, you would shut down corporations, business, commerce, banking and the Internet. Effectively, you’d shut it all down. That’s not likely going to happen.”
Especially in a time when RIM is facing increased competition from Apple and Google, the company has to maintain its reputation. RIM is known for its security, which makes BlackBerry devices ideal for business environments. If RIM gives that up now, there is no doubt that sales would drop.