Indonesia denies plan to ban BlackBerry services

August 5, 2010
Indonesia has denied it is considering a ban on certain BlackBerry smartphone services in line with similar moves from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Indonesia on Thursday denied it is considering a ban on certain BlackBerry smartphone services in line with similar moves from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Communications ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto said the government had requested the maker of the popular smartphone, (RIM), open a "data centre" in Indonesia but there was no push for a ban.

"It's not true that we're planning to ban BlackBerry services in Indonesia. We just recommended that they open a data centre in Indonesia so the data doesn't have to be routed through Canada," he told AFP.

The spokesman was responding to media reports that Indonesia was considering following measures taken in the UAE and to block BlackBerry services including messenger, web browsing and email, citing security concerns.

India is another country mulling restrictions due to fears BlackBerry's encrypted services, which involve data being routed through secure servers in Canada, could be used by militants or others for criminal activities.

Muslim-majority Indonesia has a problem with homegrown Islamic militancy but Broto refused to comment on whether the government saw BlackBerry's services as a security concern, saying only that there had been "no complaints".

A statement on the communication ministry's website said "so far" it had "no plan to apply a similar policy to the UAE because we don't see the urgency".

It noted that Indonesia has temporarily blocked imports of new BlackBerry models in 2009 after RIM rejected requests to open a "service centre" in Indonesia.

There are reportedly about 1.2 million BlackBerry users in Indonesia, a country of 240 million people seen as a major emerging market for information technology and .

RIM founder and co-chief executive Mike Lazaridis told The on Wednesday that allowing governments to monitor messages on the BlackBerry networks would imperil the firm's relationships with customers, including major corporations and law enforcement agencies.

"We're not going to compromise that," Lazaridis said. "That's what's made the number one solution worldwide."

He said the encryption causing alarm among some governments was used for many legal purposes including e-commerce transactions, teleconferencing and electronic money transfers.

"If you were to ban strong encryption, you would shut down corporations, business, commerce, banking and the Internet," he said. "Effectively, you'd shut it all down. That's not likely going to happen."

He also denied reports the company had granted special concessions to governments in countries such as India and China.

"That's absolutely ridiculous and patently false," he said.

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