A top executive of the maker of the BlackBerry smartphones said in an interview published Wednesday that the firm would not give in to pressure to allow foreign governments to access customer data.
Mike Lazaridis, founder and co-chief executive of Canadian-based Research in Motion, told The New York Times that allowing governments to monitor messages on the BlackBerry networks would imperil the firm’s relationships with customers, including major corporations and law enforcement agencies.
“We’re not going to compromise that,” Lazaridis said. “That’s what’s made BlackBerry the number one solution worldwide.”
Lazaridis said the encryption causing alarm among some governments was used for many legal purposes including e-commerce transactions, teleconferencing and electronic money transfers.
“If you were to ban strong encryption, you would shut down corporations, business, commerce, banking and the Internet,” he said. “Effectively, you’d shut it all down. That’s not likely going to happen.”
The comments came after Saudi Arabia’s telecommunication regulator followed a move by the United Arab Emirates to suspend many services of the BlackBerry in those countries, citing security concerns.
Lazaridis told the Times his company had not granted special concessions to the governments of countries like India and China, despite reports to the contrary.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous and patently false,” he said.
The company earlier this week vowed not to compromise customer security despite the threat of a ban.
BlackBerry has more than 700,000 subscribers in Saudi Arabia and 500,000 in the UAE, a country that has established itself as a major business hub mainly in the bustling emirate of Dubai.