Saudi Arabia's telecoms regulator has extended indefinitely a reprieve on a BlackBerry messenger ban as a solution is sought that allows authorities to monitor the service, SPA news agency said Tuesday.
The regulator "decided to allow the continuation of BlackBerry messenger services" while it "continues to work with service providers to complete the remainder of the regulatory requirements," it was quoted as saying.
The decision was due to "positive developments in the completion of part of the regulatory requirements on the part of service providers," it said in a statement carried by the state news agency.
The regulator did not mention if it had reached an agreement with manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) to address its national security concerns.
The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) announced last week it ordered mobile telephone operators to block key BlackBerry services from Aug. 6 or face a $1.3-million fine.
It said the suspension was due to the fact that "the way BlackBerry services are provided currently does not meet the regulatory criteria of the commission and the licensing conditions."
Services were halted on Friday, but returned after a few hours before the suspension was then postponed until Monday evening to allow time to test suggested technical solutions giving authorities access to BlackBerry's encrypted data.
Among the reported solutions is the installation of a local server accessible to Saudi authorities, instead of the data going directly to the smartphone maker's Canadian servers.
More than 700,000 people subscribe to BlackBerry in Saudi Arabia, with most reportedly purchasing the handheld device for personal use.
But Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, has expressed fears the popular smartphone could jeopardize its security.
The threat of a Saudi ban came hot on the heels of an announcement by the telecoms authority in the United Arab Emirates that it would ban BlackBerry messenger, email and web browsing from Oct. 11, for similar reasons.
Neighboring Kuwait declared on Sunday it had no plans to follow the example of Saudi Arabia or the UAE, but said it was waiting to see the outcome of the tested exits.
Bahrain and Oman have said they oppose a ban on BlackBerry, a favorite tool of business travelers, while Lebanon, a frontline state with Israel, has yet to reach a decision despite its security concerns.
Outside the Arab world, India is mulling a ban and Indonesia is not ruling out the option, although on Thursday it denied the world's largest Muslim nation was considering a suspension of BlackBerry services.