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BlackBerry messenger still functioning in Saudi Arabia

world Updated: Aug 10, 2010 14:01 IST

BlackBerry messenger was still functioning on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia after a deadline expired for telecoms firms to find a solution allowing authorities to monitor the service, users said.

Many users in the western port city and business hub of Jeddah said the service was working without interruption, but no official announcement on an agreement to allow government monitoring has been made.

The Saudi telecoms watchdog had postponed until Monday evening a suspension that was due to come into force on Friday, allowing time to test suggested technical solutions giving authorities access to BlackBerry's encrypted data.

Among the reported solutions to avert a halt to BlackBerry's key messenger service is the installation of a local server accessible to Saudi authorities, instead of the data going directly to the smartphone maker's servers in Canada.

Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) announced last week it ordered mobile telephone operators to block key BlackBerry services from August 6 or face a 1.3-million-dollar fine.

It said the suspension was due to the fact that "the way BlackBerry services are provided currently does not meet the regulatory criteria of the commission and the licensing conditions."

More than 700,000 people subscribe to BlackBerry in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, with most reportedly purchasing the handheld device for personal use.

But Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, has expressed fears the popular smartphone could jeopardise its security.

The threat of a Saudi ban came hot on the heels of an announcement by the telecoms authority in the United Arab Emirates to ban BlackBerry messenger, emails and web browsing from October 11, for similar reasons.