News / Middle East

Saudis, BlackBerry Strike Deal

Officials say deal involves installing BlackBerry computer servers in the kingdom, which would allow the government some access to user's data

Saudi Arabia and the company that makes BlackBerry mobile devices are testing a plan that would allow the government to monitor messages sent to and from the smart phones.

Saudi Arabia's telecommunications regulator said the testing is part of a 48-hour grace period before an annouced ban on the BlackBerry's messaging service.  The grace period ends Monday.

Officials say the deal involves installing BlackBerry computer servers in the kingdom, which would allow the Saudi government some access to user's data.

Saudi Arabia announced it would suspend messenger services Friday because Research in Motion, the company that makes the BlackBerry, has failed to meet Riyadh's demands for access to encrypted information.

The BlackBerry is still facing potential bans in the United Arab Emirates and India.  

Kuwait said Sunday it has no intention of banning BlackBerry services, but is talking to RIM about government concerns.

The UAE has said it will suspend e-mail, web browsing and instant messenger services on BlackBerry devices starting October 11.  The ban will not affect telephone and text messaging services.  

Like Saudi Arabia, the UAE actively censors websites and other forms of media seen as harming national security.

India has also voiced concern about the fact that BlackBerry technology makes it nearly impossible for a third party to monitor users' communications.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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