It’s small-town Waterloo, Ontario, versus the fearsome United Arab Emirates.
But in recent years, RIM has shown its thick skin, and once again, the Canadian Blackberry maker displays stubborn intolerance. The UAE, which covers seven Arab states, has stated that it will shut down several Blackberry services this fall, should RIM not comply with its conditions, which include allowing local authorities to monitor communication on RIM’s devices.
UAE’s threat has been met with much opposition, even outside of RIM: a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department recently told The Globe and Mail they were “disappointing,” stating that “it’s not about the Canadian company, it’s about what we think is an important element of human rights … and the free flow of information.”
Minister Peter Van Loan of International Trade, which is attempting to rectify the situation and is in talks with both RIM and the UAE, said that “the government of Canada will continue to stand up for Canadian business, both at home and abroad.”
RIM’s standard security measures allow data to flow from device to device in a manner that prevents outside parties accessing the information—even RIM itself.
Timing for this foreign debacle is ill—RIM was hoping its media event this week would magnetize a great deal of focus on its new products and operating system. Instead, the UAE has caused a damaging distraction for both the public and the company.
Foreign laws have often interfered with high-tech North American companies. Google and China for example, as well as Twitter in Iran, have encountered difficulties. Facebook has also dealt with issues in Pakistan.