If the UAE and Saudi Arabia thought that RIM would cave when they threatened to pull the plug on BlackBerry servers, they obviously didn’t consider outspoken co-CEO Michael Lazaridis. The Canadian company is apparently in talks with the Saudi Arabian telecommunications watchdog and executives from the three wireless operators in the kingdom, but it didn’t stop Lazaridis from dismissively suggesting that if governments “can’t deal with the internet, they should shut it off.”
“This is about the Internet. Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can’t deal with the Internet, they should shut it off.” Michael Lazaridis, co-CEO, RIM
The UAE and Saudi Arabia – like India before them – object to the encryption that RIM use to secure their BlackBerry services, suggesting that it contravenes local telecoms regulations and could be used by dissidents and other groups. Saudi Arabian BlackBerry service will be shut off this coming Friday, while the UAE has scheduled its ban for October.
In a statement, RIM insisted that giving access to the encryption systems was not an option, and said that it would not be treating any one government favorably. However, Lazaridis says the company has “dealt with this before,” and that “this will get resolved. And it will get resolved if there is a chance for rational discussion.”