Monday, August 2, 2010

RIM: Security For Customers or Not

When Google said they were leaving China, I, for one, supported their decision. But now, they're back and censoring seemed to be back. "Do no evil", Google's motto, seemed to be "so long as the bottom-line isn't affected". However, RIM doesn't have this luxury as it is faced with a decision on working with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

UAE has anounced by will but Blackberry services by October and Saudi Arabia may take similar actions unless they have the ability to control access. The reason is control of information. Mostly censorship but, to be fair, a bit of crime fighting (terrorism).

So what should RIM do?

Blackberries are important to businesses worldwide and have become an indispensable tool for those who need instant access to information. So security is all or nothing. And RIM has a very important choice regardless of which way they go with this. This will have repercussions throughout the whole wireless industry, computing, and anything that deals with information. It impacts Android, iOS, and Windows.

Moreover, other despotic nations like China, Venezuela, and even a democratic first world nation like Australia with a pretty big censorship apparatus can request RIM agree to their monitoring terms or no do business in their nations.

And while RIM might be a Canadian company, the White House along with the Canadian government should make it clear that such demands will not be tolerated.

Hopefully, RIM will look at the larger picture because even now, sharks are circling in case there is blood in the water and if there is even one drop, we can see a domino effect of similar monitoring and censorships in many regions of the world.

I think Google should not have gone back into China because it essential made things more difficult for other companies to do business there and really gave Beijing a lot of confidence. I hope RIM doesn't add to that.

The State Department has sought clarification from the UAE ambassador. UAE's attempt to find a solution with RIM apparently was unacceptable, leading to this October shutdown.

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