Internet freedom has a new name, and it is BlackBerry. It is hard to know when it happened, but at some point in the last month the BlackBerry became the enemy number one of those countries with strong Internet filters. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will ban BlackBerries, while Indonesia has been making noises about regulation of the device.
Why the sudden regulatory rush against the mobile gadgets? The reason is that BlackBerry connects users to its own servers for Internet access. As many countries have in place national firewalls, the BlackBerry works as a handy tool for bypassing the digital blockade. This makes it a prime candidate for teenagers and others to connect to the unrestricted Web, and in the mind of censors, that means porn.
The only way in which BlackBerry may be able to get away from the ban is if they setup servers behind the national firewall. So far, Research In Motion (RIM), the makers of the device, appear to be unwilling to comply.
The best comment out of the whole affair has come from RIM’s CEO Mike Lazaridis, who said that “if governments can’t deal with the internet, they should shut it off”. Wise words. If you can’t join this century, go back to the Dark Ages.