By Jason Theodorou

Two Gulf states have announced a ban on certain fuctions of the Blackberry mobile phone, claiming concerns over security and the inability for the state to monitor data transmitted by the device.

The United Arab Emirates will block the sending of e-mails and delivery of instant messages to other BlackBerry devices in October. Saudi Arabia is expected to stop the use of the BlackBerry to BlackBerry instant messaging service, with this ban expected to come into play later in the month.

Communications between two BlackBerry devices are sent in encrypted form to Research In Motion (RIM) servers in Canada, bypassing local government and making it impossible to intercept messages. BlackBerry services are expected to be suspended in the UAE in October, until 'a solution compatible with local laws is reached'.

Saudi Arabia has said that it cannot monitor messages sent via BlackBerry Messenger for 'national security' or 'social values'. The UAE has put pressure on RIM in the past, allegedly installing 'spyware' on citizens' handsets to evade the company's policies.

RIM said in a statement that it 'does not disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government', but added that it 'assures customers that it is committed to continue delivering highly secure and innovative products that satisfy the needs of both customers and governments'.

There are at least 500,000 BlackBerry users in the United Arab Emirates, and up to 400,000 in Saudi Arabia.

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