BlackBerry users in Saudi Arabia could soon lose access to key services, including messaging and email.
The Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission said last night that all three telecoms companies in the region - STC, Mobily and Zain - must block the services from 7 August, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Authorities in the country want to be able to monitor the content of messages sent on BlackBerry devices. Such messages are currently sent under encryption to RIM servers outside the region.
BlackBerry maker RIM hinted in a statement that it will not adhere to the requests, claiming that it does not have the ability to change the settings of its service for individual requests.
"The BlackBerry enterprise solution was designed to preclude RIM, or any third party, from reading encrypted information under any circumstances, since RIM does not store or have access to the encrypted data," the company said.
"RIM cannot accommodate any request for a copy of a customer's encryption key since at no time does RIM, or any wireless network operator or any third party, ever possess a copy of the key."
However, the statement seems to be at odds with a Reuters report yesterday which asserts that US law enforcers can tap into BlackBerry emails and other conversations as long as they have court orders to do so.
"The ability to tap communications is a part of surveillance and intelligence and law enforcement all over the world," said Mark Rasch, former head of the computer crimes unit at the US Department of Justice.
V3.co.uk was awaiting further clarification from RIM at the time of writing.
The United Arab Emirates is also considering a block on the technology, citing the same security issues.
There have also been reports in Indian newspaper The Economic Times that RIM is in talks with the country's government about a system that could allow authorities to monitor communications on the platform for national security reasons.
And local papers in Kuwait are reporting that RIM is in talks with authorities to block BlackBerry handsets from accessing some 3,000 pornographic web sites.
RIM executives at yesterday's UK launch of the BlackBerry Torch 9800 refused to comment on the situation, merely referring to previously issued statements.
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