Report: Saudi Arabia and RIM reach BlackBerry deal

The Wall Street Journal today reports that in Saudi Arabia, the government division responsible for telecom oversight has reached a preliminary agreement with BlackBerry maker RIM, based in Canada, over the matter of government access to BlackBerry messaging data.

The solution includes a concession from RIM to cooperate with local telecoms, and set up a data server inside the country so the Saudi government can surveil text messages and other data to when needed (not unlike the wiretapping access already enjoyed by our own government, here in the USA):

"A preliminary agreement has already been reached and a formal deal between the parties is in the final stages of negotiations," an official at a Saudi-based telecom operator involved in the talks said. When asked if the agreement involved installing a local server in the kingdom, the person, who declined to be named, said "yes."

(…) The Saudi government has been discussing with RIM the possibility of getting access to data when there's a pressing national-security concern, a person familiar with the situation said Friday. In the past, the parties had also discussed the possibility of placing BlackBerry servers inside the country, the person added.

RIM has come under pressure from authorities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and several other countries in the region and beyond to provide greater access to the encrypted information sent by its BlackBerry devices. The U.A.E.'s Telecommunication Regulatory Authority said it would block key BlackBerry services due to national-security concerns from Oct. 11.

Saudi Arabia, Research In Motion Reach Deal (WSJ, subscription required)

Update: Here's an Associated Press item with more detail (and more named sources).