Officials in Saudi Arabia have confirmed telecoms firms in the country will be forced to block the messenger function from BlackBerry smartphones from Friday.
Following the lead the UAE, the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said the ban would last until the state’s three mobile phone operators “fulfil the regulatory requirements it has requested”.
However, the commission refused to reveal what those requirements were, raising fears the decision could be used to gain access to sensitive data.
The United Arab Emirates has said it will ban email, browsing and message features from the device from October this year, citing security concerns.
Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are unhappy at they are unable to monitor communications between the devices, as they send the encrypted data to computer servers outside the two countries.
In India, BlackBerry developers Research in Motion (RIM) have issued a statement denying reports there suggesting the company would allow authorities to monitor communications between the devices.
“We won’t compromise on the security architecture of our corporate e-mails,” confirmed RIM’s India spokesman, Satchit Gayakwad.
“We respect the requirements of regulatory bodies in terms of security, but we also look at the customer’s need for privacy.”
The Canadian firm also denied it had ever provided anything unique to the government of one country that it had not offered to the governments of all countries.
The news comes as the company reveals its latest model, the BlackBerry 9800, at a press conference in New York. The model – also known as the BlackBerry Torch - combines a touch-screen interface with a slide-out version of the Qwerty keyboard for which BlackBerrys are famed