North African energy exporter Algeria joins a growing list of countries raising concerns about the BlackBerry phones that could hit users and curb revenues for the devices’ Canadian maker, Research in Motion Ltd.
“We are looking at the issue. If we find out that it is a danger for our economy and our security, we will stop it,” the El Khabar newspaper quoted Telecommunications Minister Moussa Benhamadi as saying.
BlackBerry use in Algeria, a former French colony of 35 million people, is not widespread. A source close to the Telecommunications Ministry told Reuters, “Ending the BlackBerry service in Algeria is very likely.”
Algeria’s government is extremely security conscious because it is fighting an insurgency by Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda. It imposes tough restrictions on telecommunications equipment.
Countries including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and India say they are worried that they do not have access to encrypted BlackBerry user data.
RIM is the only smartphone maker that manages the message traffic sent using its equipment.
Two Algerian operators offer clients BlackBerry service, the state-owned Mobilis and Djezzy, the Algerian business of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, which has for months been at the centre of a dispute over the unit’s ownership.