BlackBerry maker 'will not compromise' security despite ban

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion vowed Monday not to compromise customer security after two Gulf governments threatened to block key services.

Facing a partial ban in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the Canadian-based firm told customers that "it will not compromise the integrity and security of the BlackBerry."

The UAE and Saudi governments were poised to ban key BlackBerry messenger, email and web browsing functions, citing concerns they could be used for illegal activities.

In a statement, RIM admitted it discusses security issues with "certain governments" but said it "respects both the regulatory requirements of government and the security and privacy needs of corporations and consumers."

BlackBerry has more than 700,000 subscribers in Saudi Arabia and 500,000 in the UAE, a country that has established itself as a major business hub mainly in the bustling emirate of Dubai.

RIM tried to assure business customers that closely guarded company secrets transmitted by email or messenger would not be at risk.

"BlackBerry security architecture was specifically designed to provide corporate customers with the ability to transmit information wirelessly while also providing them with the necessary confidence that no one, including RIM, could access their data."

The UAE's decision comes as media watchdog Reporters without Borders accused the UAE of "harassing and arresting users of BlackBerry Messenger who allegedly tried to organize a protest" against an increase in petrol prices.

"We call for an end to this government witch-hunt against BlackBerry Messenger users who tried to get their fellow citizens to join them in a protest," it said on Thursday, claiming that one of the organizers, Badr Ali al-Dhohori, 18, has been in custody in Abu Dhabi since July 15.

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