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Saudi Says RIM Deal Reached; BlackBerry OK, If We Can Read the Messages 185

crimeandpunishment writes "There's a deal on the table to avert a ban on Blackberry's messenger service in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi regulatory official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press the deal involves placing a server in Saudi Arabia ... and letting the government monitor users' messages, easing Saudi concerns over security and criminal usage. The deal could have wide-ranging implications, given how many other countries have expressed similar concerns, or in the case of the United Arab Emirates, have threatened to block Blackberry email and messaging services." Perhaps the governments of UAE and India would be satisfied, too, if only they had access to the messages transmitted.
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Saudi Says RIM Deal Reached; BlackBerry OK, If We Can Read the Messages

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  • travel is optional (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @01:32PM (#33174514) Homepage Journal

    You give up certain rights when you travel to a foreign country.

  • Re:Privacy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @01:33PM (#33174524) Journal

    You do realize that the US gov't knows it could not do the same thing without getting a big uproar, but they can just get all of RIM's traffic routed through Saudi Arabia, right... Who am I kidding, the US ALREADY can view everybody's BlackBerry messages.

  • by shawn(at)fsu ( 447153 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @01:34PM (#33174528) Homepage

    Aren't you being a little over dramatic? Exactly how did you think the world worked? You really weren't naïve enough tho think that they cared about anything besides profits for the shareholders did you?

  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @01:35PM (#33174544)

    but is corporate willing to give them up? maybe not and they will need to find away around it or say no e-mail for workers that are in that country.

  • by Statecraftsman ( 718862 ) * on Saturday August 07, 2010 @01:37PM (#33174562) Homepage
    reached a virtual standstill when the maintainers told Saudi Arabia to "stick it".
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @01:38PM (#33174576)

    what exactly is RIM selling? confidence and trust.

    they just threw all that out the door.

    yes, I think its a HUGE deal. when their whole stock and trade is privacy and then they turn around and sign a 'smiling deal' with our arch enemies (...), yes, I consider that an about-face in the harshest of ways.

    we all suspected the almighty looney was king, here; but I was hoping for a ray of sunlight. hoping; but apparently not getting.

    no corporation, today, can continue the 'do no evil' for very long. how very sad for us all.

  • by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @01:44PM (#33174618)
    I posted on here in another thread a few days back that RIMs refusal to back down in the UAE stood them in very good stead as a company as their users would respect that. Its amazing how quickly one can lose confidence again....
  • Re:Privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 07, 2010 @01:48PM (#33174644)

    Who am I kidding, the US ALREADY can view everybody's BlackBerry messages.

    Any evidence of that?

    I recall my company's legal team doing a search for any instance where intercepted, decrypted messages from a Blackberry Enterprise Server were used in court. The lawyers weren't able to find any cases.

    Now, that doesn't prove anything, but it's a good indicator.

    Plus, you can use S/MIME and PGP with blackberry for additional encryption.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 07, 2010 @01:53PM (#33174680)

    what exactly is RIM selling? confidence and trust.

    they just threw all that out the door.

    yes, I think its a HUGE deal. when their whole stock and trade is privacy

    Absolutely agree. Research in Motion (RIM) has signed the equivalent of a declaration of war against the organizations and persons who chose a BlackBerry device due to its high-level of security and end-to-end security over the network operated by RIM. Once the data reaches the customers messaging servers the data comes under the control and responsibility of the customer, but during transmission through the RIM network is solely the responsibility of RIM. In my opinion, Research in Motion is in breach of contract on a massive scale.

  • Clever, if evil. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @02:18PM (#33174784) Journal
    Architecturally, it looks like this deal will affect only BIS users, the ones that just walk up to the Phones-r-us kiosk and buy a blackberry and service plan. It won't have any effect on corporate customers running BES servers, since those have their own keys, and devices talking to them won't be dealing with the BIS servers being set up in Saudi Arabia.

    Thus, the customers most likely to complain, and make their complaints felt in the pocketbook, are unaffected, while the little people are ever more transparent.
  • by Kilrah_il ( 1692978 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @02:30PM (#33174844)

    Just a word of caution before everyone here denounces RIM: We all remember the news [] a few days ago that Google made an agreement with Verizon for preferential access to their network. Everyone here was raising hell about how Google threw their "open Internet" stance out the window for profit. And then, after a few hours, we got an update: No such deal!
    So, people, wait a few hours and let's see what's the real deal between RIM and the Saudi government. If this is the real deal - then shame on them!

  • by ldconfig ( 1339877 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @02:31PM (#33174848)
    1984 was a warning but sadly its turned into a how-to manual.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 07, 2010 @02:39PM (#33174894)

    Because their sales depend on business people going to Saudi Arabia and using their products. How do you think their customers will react now that the Saudi government can eavesdrop on confidential business communications, trade secrets, corporate strategy, etc... ???

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 07, 2010 @02:53PM (#33174960)

    lol. those who give up liberty for security deserve neither.

  • by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @03:15PM (#33175076) Homepage

    And all the moral relativists come out of the woodwork to suddenly embrace right and wrong.

    Companies don't go to heaven. So companies get NO credit for doing what is right. They only get credit for doing what is necessary to survive.

    Vote with your dollars...but people will still buy whatever product they like best.

  • by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @03:27PM (#33175174) Homepage Journal

    From what I have read in various sources, most of the terrorists' communication is in code. That is, plain language words and phrases have a specific meaning. They don't use encryption since the very act of encrypting their communication draws attention to it. Something like, "My cousin's wedding is Wednesday," could mean that their planned attack will happen on Wednesday... or this guy's cousin really is getting married on Wednesday. Encrypting such a message just draws attention to it.

    Getting access to something like a Blackberry server won't stop the terrorists from communicating. It might give local companies an advantage if the government makes what should be proprietary information available.


  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @03:56PM (#33175328)

    You give up certain rights when you travel to a foreign country

    Rights are inherent and not given or allowed by any government. Nor are laws enumerations on these rights.

    I thought that was the whole point of the Magna Carta and the American Revolution.

    But if you want to be pragmatic about it, it is in the moral and political best interest of any nation who does respect those rights to put pressure on countries that do not.

    Or is it ok to be nice with people who allow repression and torture in their countries?

    It doesn't matter if it is their law in that country or not, if you are an individual or a corporation that plays nice with those rules, it means you support those policies. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about that.

  • Re:Privacy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <.marc.paradise. .at.> on Saturday August 07, 2010 @04:31PM (#33175534) Homepage Journal
    You're right - BES can't be intercepted/decrypted. BIS/consumer-grade is a completely different matter. (Unless, as you say, S/MIME is used....)
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Saturday August 07, 2010 @04:58PM (#33175666) Journal

    Thus your options are 1) play dirty or 2) don't play at all.

    To the extent that I'm able, when it comes to unethical companies, I do my best not to play at all. I'm sure there are plenty of customers who don't mind what a company does as long as their products are shiny and the price is right. But once in a while, boycotts have a very positive effect.

    if the marketplace simply allows unethical behavior, and if there is a competitive advantage in being unethical, then natural selection will actually weed out all the ethical companies as inefficient.

    You've just described one of the biggest arguments against the notion that "free markets" are good things. In a truly "free market" the result would inevitably a few huge companies, a few very rich people and a lot of poor people who work very hard and have very big debts. That's just the way corporations like it because it limits their workers' choices. When you're poor and have lots of debt, you'll take any job and work for almost nothing and you don't have choice in the matter. You keep buying with the credit card and having fewer and fewer choices. In a free market, everybody "owes their soul to the company store".

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @08:42PM (#33177112)

    I believe they can get a wiretap warrant and monitor what is going on with a given number. That is not surprising (or secret). However I don't believe they have any secret back door in to the handsets, or private BES units. They seem to use strong, FIPS validated, encryption which to the best of anyone's knowledge is not breakable. In fact the security of the handsets is one of the things the government loves to much about BB and why they are the biggest customer (the US government loves them some BlackBerrys).

    It is one thing to say "Of course RIM cooperates with all lawful investigations." I'd expect nothing else, they don't really have a choice. However it is a different one to say "RIM has built in special back doors for a government can freely monitor what is going on."

    Same kind of thing with your PC. The US government (I'm presuming you like in the US here) can monitor your Internet traffic with a warrant. They can have your ISP mirror everything you do so they can see it. Also, they can seize your PC with a warrant and sift through the data on it. However they can't have your PC spy on you automatically. Your PC does not have some built in back door that lets them get in to it remotely when they like. It does not give them any special monitoring access.

    To put an analogy to a house, the government can get a warrant to survey your house (actually for most kinds they don't need a warrant), and they can get a warrant to search the house itself, and can require you to let them in when presented with this warrant. However they do not have a master key that lets them in to your house when they feel like, and do not have the right to just waltz in when they want with no reason.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @10:53PM (#33177678)

    Rights are inherent and not given or allowed by any government. Nor are laws enumerations on these rights.

    I thought that was the whole point of the Magna Carta and the American Revolution.

    Haven't travelled much, hey? Rights are a uniquely human invention, and they are given by whoever is in charge and can be taken away by the same entity. In a democracy citizens nominally decide what rights they want to grant themselves and what rights to grant non-citizens (usually not exactly the same list). Sometimes they decide some rights are important enough to try and get other people to agree to as well.

    Note that the Magna Carta was basically an agreement giving the English aristocracy some ability (rights, if you like) to limit the king's power. The commoners didn't really get any rights. Ditto with the US bill of rights - it gave citizens certain rights, but did squat for non-citizens (such as slaves). And neither of those apply to any society (such as Saudi Arabia) that isn't descended from the UK.

    The idea of "inalienable" rights is ridiculous. No society has ever granted the same rights to all people, and certainly not at all times. The US itself only grants many rights to citizens or legal residents, and sometimes doesn't even respect the ones the UN says are basic human rights.

  • by Clandestine_Blaze ( 1019274 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:28AM (#33178088) Journal

    I have to agree with you here, even failed attacks cause mass hysteria. Just look at the security theater at airports in the US. (I can only speak for the country I live in.) With every failed attack, they tack on another ridiculous "security procedure" that does nothing but make us think that they're doing something useful. To make things worse, then the US requires airports abroad to have similar procedures and regulations to even be allowed within US airspace.

    Though you didn't pose your question to me, I do not find that terrorism requires any competence. Terrorism is simply a desperate way to achieve a political goal. Because they do not have the resources that a government with a standing army has, they choose whatever method that they can get away with, and that's usually hijackings or suicide bombings. Even unsuccessful attacks cause enough of a panic within a general population to change government policy and disrupt everyday life.

    Any idiot with homemade bombs can do this. 9/11, on the other hand, did require competence. The plot was hatched around 1996, though some of it was also luck because the FBI, CIA, and local law enforcement did not talk to each other. (I believe at least one of the would-be hijackers was pulled over before 9/11, for example.)

    But would we feel any different about groups such as al-Qaeda if they were a real government and had a standing army, and sent battalions and regiments into battle ? Do we hate their tactics, or their goals?

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