RIM in the news

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This week started off very busy for Blackberry maker, RIM. First, we heard about the United Arab Emirates being unhappy that RIM is not letting that government access to the unencrypted messages that users send. RIM’s network encrypts all the messages which makes them very secure. However, some governments do not like the fact that they can’t track what their residents are doing. In other words, they want the ability to spy on their citizens…how comforting.

Yesterday, RIM announced a brand new smartphone called the Torch. This phone has a touch screen and a slide-out keyboard, but it is supposed to be much better than their first attempt at a touch screen smartphone. That one was called the Storm and was a complete disaster. This new Torch smartphone uses the new Blackberry 6 operating system that is rumoured to also be used in the much anticipated Blackberry tablet. The operating system is the most interesting part of this new phone because the actual phone itself doesn’t look like anything to write home about. The phone will be out in about a week in the U.S. so we will see then how it fares against the iPhone and other smartphones out there.

Unfortunately for RIM, yesterday was supposed to be all about the new Torch unveiling. However, some of that talk was shifted to Saudi Arabia where that government also voiced their displeasure with RIM’s secure network. This is not positive news when various countries want access to RIM users’ messages. This is especially true because reports suggest that RIM capitulated to the governments of India and Kuwait and will allow them access to the network. As a North American based company, a lot of people at home will not be happy that they are allowing governments to effectively eavesdrop on people if they wish.

The governments cite possible threats against their country that would go unknown if they did not have this access. Although this does make some sense, the governments should not have unimpeded access to anything and everything they desire. There needs to be some sort of warrants issued only with sufficient reasoning that would enable governments to see peoples messages. It is unclear about these details so right now we can only hope RIM is doing the right thing and negotiating these terms with the various countries. If these details have been negotiated, then it is in RIM’s interest to announce them as soon as they can.