Canadian government, media bat for BlackBerry

August 6th, 2010 - 6:02 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Aug 6 (IANS) The Canadian government and the media Thursday came out in support of embattled BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM), which is facing a ban in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and possible restrictions in India.
International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan said Thursday that his government will stand by RIM in its fight against foreign governments seeking access to its secure technology.

“Our government will be standing up for RIM as a Canadian company and the BlackBerry, as we always do stand up for Canadian companies doing business abroad when they run into these kind of challenges,” he was quoted as saying by Dow Jones.

The minister said Canada was also concerned about restrictions sought by some countries on free flow of information.

Batting for the BlackBerry maker, the Globe and Mail newspaper said: “A handful of Asian states with varying human rights records want Research In Motion Ltd to help them get an eye on what BlackBerry users in their countries are up to.”

“But RIM should continue to stand strong in the face of such pressure, for the benefit of its bottom line and in the name of open, free communication between people,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“These countries (the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Indonesia and India) have varying requests of RIM and different stated interests - stopping terrorists, barring access to pornography - but they share a common goal, to control as much wireless communication within their borders as possible.”

The editorial said RIM’s choice is part of a larger battle with autocratic governments.

“If a state gets access to e-mails to search for suspected terrorists, it will start tracking suspected dissidents. RIM cannot permit that.”

The newspaper said RIM may lose some customers in the countries that are threatening it, it could lose far more customers across all countries if it jettisons its reputation for security.

“BlackBerry users should be able to presume that their communications are private, and that the state is not peering in, no matter where they are in the world.”

According to the editorial, “In extreme circumstances, governments of all stripes may have good reasons to request access to some electronic communications, and RIM may be compelled, on a one-off basis, to comply.”

“But countries need to demonstrate a pressing, immediate need, preferably with a judicial imprimatur, and not be handed a blank cheque as a routine matter.”

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