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Indonesia joins BlackBerry wiretapping pile-on

Stops short of ban threat

Indonesia has joined Middle Eastern states to put pressure on RIM to provide authorities with BlackBerry interception capabilities.

Today its communications regulator toned down earlier rhetoric, however, saying "so far there is absolutely no plan" to follow the UAE and Saudi Arabia in threatening to restrict BlackBerry services.

Indonesia said it had appealed to the firm last year to establish a local data centre to assist law enforcement, but insisted it was "only a plea and there is no legal sanction". In most international markets, RIM routes encrypted BlackBerry communications its via facilities in Canada, avoiding interception laws (although large corporates typically run their own local servers).

There is a Google translation of Indonesia's position here.

Saudi Arabia plans to implement its restrictions on BlackBerry tomorrow, and the UAE has set a deadline of 11 October for RIM to fall into line. Both have complained at perceived double-standards over the firm's covert cooperation with Western government eavesdroppers.

Indonesia's more conciliatory tone is good news for RIM - the country has a rapidly growing economy and a population more than seven times that of the two Arab states combined.

Lord West, until recently UK security minister, seemed to provide hints the UK is able to access the content of BlackBerry emails and instant messenger conversations this week. In a debate on Newsnight he expressed no concern over monitoring RIM traffic.

The UK may have acquired the capability quite simply. BlackBerry's security is accredited by CESG, the information assurance arm of the interception agency GCHQ. Obtaining the endorsement requires manufacturers to open their source code to inspection. ®

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