US Gets Entangled Over BlackBerry Security and Privacy Concerns Overseas

Having a vested interest in the success and continued, uninterrupted use of US diplomats and foreign relations personnel working overseas, the Obama Administration is getting itself entangled in the disputes and concerns between Canadian BlackBerry smartphone maker Research in Motion and the governments of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, India, Lebanon, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. The dispute arose between various governments wanting access to encrypted data that is being sent or received by BlackBerry smartphones, noting terrorism and security threats as major concerns. Some countries have announced that they may ban the smartphone while the UAE has already issued a ban beginning October, restricting BlackBerry use to just voice communications.

Officials in the US State Department are concerned that government officials and business people working in these regions may be affected and are trying to work with RIM to reach a compromise. “We are taking time to consult and analyze the full range of interests and issues at stake because we know that there is a legitimate security concern, but there’s also a legitimate right of free use and access,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said

A State Department spokesman says that the US is working with these countries “to understand the security concerns and see if we can’t work collaboratively to find solutions.”

According to the spokesman, “If some of these countries follow through on what they’ve announced it would have an impact on the U.S. government and our diplomats operating in different countries. So we are directly affected by what has been suggested. But, obviously, we know that both American businessmen, American citizens traveling abroad, the citizens of other countries would be affected as well.”

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