Cultural Interface :

Saudi Arabian Blackberry Ban is About Social Control

Research in Motion’s Blackberry service was granted a reprieve on Friday, when the scheduled shutdown was to take place, they have agreed to wait until Monday, August 9th to finish testing on servers in Saudi Arabia.

Yes that is correct, RIM has agreed to route messages through servers in Saudi Arabia before they are whisked off to their servers in Canada or the UK. What this means is uncertain…

1. Is RIM allowing the Saudi’s to save face and get the clerics off theirs backs by routing encrypted messages through Saudi servers that will remain encrypted?

2. Is RIM allowing the Saudis to monitor and read messages that pass through these servers?

3. Is RIM allowing the Saudis to rifle through private individual messages and still protecting enterprise clients? More about this option here, “The Cultural Interface: RIM Claims To Be Saying “No, Not, Never”

4. None of the above is true and RIM is still in the doghouse with the Saudis and 700,000 customers in the country are about to go black.

Various opinions suggest that the issues for the United Arab Eremites and Saudi Arabia are not the same. The UAE is concerned about security after the murder of a senior leader of Hamas, a militant Palestinian group, while he was in Dubai. They are also concerned with monitoring the trade with Iran. The Saudis may worried about nothing more than uncontrolled social networking, boys meeting girls.

Whatever the intent of the monitoring, what RIM needs to worry about is the perception that the high security wall they have created and linked to the value of their brand could be undermined by the perception of their customer’s need for security has been compromised. How will they explain servers in another country?

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