Indonesia presses RIM over its BlackBerry service

The country wants RIM to put a server in the country so it can verify that data is secure

Indonesia is continuing to press Research In Motion (RIM) to allow monitoring of BlackBerry data for security reasons, a request made last year but renewed as the Canadian company feels similar pressure from other countries.

The government would like RIM to put a server in the country that would allow authorities to guarantee to customers the security of the data that RIM now processes and saves in Canada, wrote Heru Sutadi, commissioner of the local regulator, Badan Regulasi Telekomunikasi Indonesia (BRTI), in an e-mail on Thursday. Indonesia would also like RIM to have an office in the country.

Indonesia does not intend to ban the BlackBerry service in the country as RIM "by and large complies with our regulations," said Gatot S. Dewa Broto, spokesman for the country's Ministry of Communications and Informatics earlier in the day.

Indonesia asked RIM last year to put a server in the country for security reasons to handle only domestic data traffic, and the company is still considering the proposal, Sutadi said.

RIM is already facing suspension of its services in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia starting on Friday and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Oct. 11.

Additionally, the company is in discussions with India's government, which is demanding access to BlackBerry communications for its security agencies. Indian government officials said on Thursday that the talks were ongoing.

RIM's problems with some governments have also come to the attention of the U.S. government. The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday that it is in touch with the UAE and other governments to better understand their concerns and plans for the BlackBerry service.

"We're going to see how best to resolve these cases in a way that addresses security requirements and supports the flow of information and use of technology that we think is positive around the world," said Philip J. Crowley, assistant secretary in the State Department's bureau of public affairs.

RIM cannot appear to be giving in to demands from governments for interception of communications on its network, according to analysts. The company is in a tight spot because if it is seen to compromise with governments on security and privacy, the BlackBerry will lose its attractiveness to customers, said Matthew Reed, who heads research on wireless telecommunications in the Middle East and Africa for Informa Telecoms & Media.

RIM says it does not have access to the data that some governments want access to. RIM has said that it does not possess a "master key," nor does any "back door" exist in the system that would allow RIM or any third party to gain unauthorized access to the encryption key or corporate data.

The symmetric key system used in the BlackBerry security architecture for enterprise customers ensures that only the customer possesses a copy of the encryption key, it added.

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Tags governmentmobileregulationtelecommunicationresearch in motionRIM BlackBerryindonesiaGovernment use of IT

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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