Indonesia to join countries banning BlackBerry devices

Indonesia is thinking about following the lead of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in banning BlackBerry services.  This is adding pressure on RIM to give governments greater access to data.

Gatot Dewabroto, a spokesman for the Ministry of Communication and Information, would like RIM to setup a local server so that encrypted data will not pass through the Canadian company’s overseas servers.

He went on to say, “We don’t know whether data being sent through BlackBerrys can be intercepted or read by third parties outside the country.”  He also expressed concern that the information could be used by criminals or spies.

Indonesia made this announcement shortly after Saudia Arabia said its telecom regulator began telling mobile operators to halt BlackBerry services as of Friday.

RIM has said discussions with the more than 175 countries where it operates are private. It does offer help to governments, but says its technology does not allow it, or any third party, to read encrypted e-mails sent by corporate BlackBerry users. (The consumer version has a lower level of security.)

The e-mails are, however, unencrypted on the servers of corporate clients, and can be obtained from the companies.

Satchit Gayakwad, an RIM spokesman in India, denied there were plans to give the government greater control over surveillance of its corporate clients.

“We won’t compromise on the security architecture of our corporate e-mails,” he said. “We respect the requirements of regulatory bodies in terms of security, but we also look at the customer’s need for privacy.”

Dewabroto said Indonesia, one of the largest providers of Blackberry services in Southeast Asia with more than 1 million users, is still just mulling a ban.

But it wouldn’t be the first time it has taken on the device maker: Service was blocked in 2008 until RIM agreed to set up sales service centers for users inside the country.

A Saudi security official told AP that security authorities are concerned about being unable to track down the exchange of messages using BlackBerry messenger.

“This service might be used to serve terrorism,” the official said.

BlackBerry phones are known to be popular both among businesspeople and youth in the kingdom who see the phones’ relatively secure communication features as a way to avoid attention from the authorities.

Several other countries have expressed desire for more control over BlackBerry messaging, including Bahrain, which has threatened to crack down on news dissemination using the devices.

Source:  Yahoo! News