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RIM Co-CEO on Blackberry Ban: Deal With the Net or Shut it Off

Forget diplomatic double-talk, this was straight, no chaser. Research In Motion co-CEO Michael Lazaridis had a message for the chorus of would-be Internet snoops threatening to ban the Blackberry: If you can't deal with the Internet in your country, then shut it down.
An agent of subversion?

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said: ""This is about the Internet...Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off."

Lazaridis' comments come as Lebanon became the latest country threatening to ban the Blackberry over purported security concerns. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia recently announced plans to ban the Blackberry. On Wednesday, Indonesia warned it would follow their lead unless RIM set up a server locally. If RIM agrees, it would mean that encrypted information sent by the phones thus would not need to get routed through the company's overseas computers.

"We don't know whether data being sent through BlackBerrys can be intercepted or read by third parties outside the country," a spokesman for Indonesia's Ministry of Communication and Information told the Associated Press, adding that there was concern that information could be used by criminals or spies.

For his part, Lazaridis said that negotiations with the countries threatening the ban but did not get into details.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet," he told the WSJ. "AA lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science."

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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.