Indonesia threatens a BlackBerry blackout

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Picking on a bug-bear a number of other nations have also felt it necessary to carp about, Indonesian communication authorities have recently threatened to shut-down BlackBerry services should Research In Motion (RIM) fail to meet various demands.

The Canadian-based maker of the popular BlackBerry smartphones, RIM, which has been in discussions with Indonesian authorities since the start of the year, seemed taken aback by the threats.

In January, the Indonesian government made — what media reports have repeatedly referred to with no further explanation as — “four requests” to the faltering Canadian company. Both RIM and the Indonesians agree that RIM agreed to fulfil these requests. However, while RIM is of the opinion that they did so, Indonesia’s communications and information technology ministry has a very different opinion.

“RIM is supposed to have a licence to provide internet services, and the government will only grant them one when they have fulfilled all four requests. If they don’t, we’ll have to cut their data services,” Indonesian telecommunications authority official Heru Sudati has been quoted as saying.

One particular request which authorities claim RIM backed out of would have seen the lowering of costs to local service providers with RIM setting up an “aggregator”.

“”We had a meeting with RIM on Thursday to talk about progress since January. They have fulfilled some requests, but we are disappointed they have not agreed to establish an aggregator in Indonesia,” Sutadi said.

Another complaint made by Indonesia was that it had asked RIM to block pornographic sites from being accessed on its smartphones. Along with that, as in other nations which have either threatened or instituted BlackBerry service blackouts, Indonesia also called for assistance in accessing encrypted data (a misnomer) on users’ smartphones.

On the matter of “encrypted data”, Sutadi said, “RIM told us they were working with law enforcement agencies to ensure they can access the information, but they could not tell us who exactly they were working with”.

A confused RIM, however, maintains that it had fulfilled the Indonesian request, adding that it was receiving “mixed messages” from the authorities.

As has influenced the shape of the smartphone market in other emerging-market nations such as South Africa, the high cost of broadband connectivity in Indonesia has led to BlackBerry’s outselling all other smartphones in the nation, says Memeburn contributor Thomas Crampton

Earlier this year, both the governments of the United Kingdom and South Africa made similar calls for the monitoring and or shutdown of BlackBerry’s popular internet services before quickly issuing retractions masked as “clarifications”.

In 2010, Saudi Arabia was one of the first nations to follow through on a threat to shut down the service.

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