RIM Puts its Foot Down and Says No! Or does it?

Research In Motion (RIM) has finally come to a decision it seems—it will not be giving any countries access to its users’ data. However, its strongly worded press releases lose a lot of their bite when you consider what the foreign governments they are in negotiations with are saying. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has threatened to ban BlackBerry services in October and Saudi Arabia will be shutting down BlackBerrys as soon as this Friday. India is also throwing a hissy fit since its intelligence agencies cannot read any information sent between the devices.

Even as RIM claims that it is impossible to give another country access to the BlackBerry data stored on its servers in Canada because even it does not have a key to decode the encrypted information, CNBC Arabia claims Saudi Arabia and RIM are “close to a solution.” As it is also being reported that India and RIM are expected to come to some type of agreement, and the UAE still wants to reach one, RIM might be planning on setting up servers in these countries. These local servers would probably have some type of ‘master key’ system to allow their respective governments access to the data on them while ensuring that the data for North American and European users remains safe back in Canada.

The possibility of this scare you? It should not—unless you are a champion of freedom of speech and privacy. Large, Western, multinational corporations are supposed to be spreading democracy and freedom of speech right? You would hope so. Then again, business ethics regarding oppressive countries is something that is best not discussed on a smartphone blog.

No word yet from Iran, but whether or not the country even has cell phones is a topic for another forum. Iran’s latest crazy claim is that the United States has been tainting the cigarettes that are smuggled into the country (smoking cigarettes is illegal there) with pig’s blood and radioactive material (I am not making this up), so it is unlikely RIM would even bother to speak to them. Besides, I am pretty sure all of those trade embargoes against Iran prevent BlackBerrys to be even imported.

Have an opinion on the mess that RIM has found itself in the middle of? Should the company capitulate and create two tiers of privacy? One if you live in the West and one if you live in a third world country? Let us know where you stand on this.

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