BlackBerry has been a popular phone throughout the world because of its strong security features. Users securely accessed their e-mail accounts, messages, and calls because the company used strong encryption codes. However, this led to serious political and economic risks in other regions outside the US, the UK, and Canada among others.
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BlackBerry faced strong challenges in its overseas operation, particularly in the Middle East and Asia regions. The major concern that many countries raised were security concerns related to BlackBerry’s coding system. Governments found it difficult to monitor any form of communication that took place through BlackBerry mobile phones.
The different political systems in the Middle East affected the company’s operations. For instance, many Middle East countries cited both moral and security reasons as their sources of concerns, which initiated threats to ban BlackBerry devices. These governments demanded to gain full access to BlackBerry messages due to increasing cases of global security challenges and terrorism threats.
It is important to recognize that RIM’s BlackBerry sent customers’ information automatically to its servers in Canada. This realization forced many Middle East countries to demand that BlackBerry should set up local servers. The political instability, limited freedom, and moral concerns were the major reasons, which made BlackBerry face threats of bans from several Middle East governments.
Measures that RIM can take to address security concerns while taking care of its business interests
From these threats to ban BlackBerry in several Middle East countries, RIM must address security and moral concerns in order to continue operating in these countries. Business growth and economic gains would be important for the company other than the privacy of its customers in the Middle East. RIM had to comply with regulations in foreign countries. First, BlackBerry would have to set servers in Middle East countries and allow government authorities to gain access to customers’ personal information and communications. This would eliminate the automatic transfer of customers’ data to servers in Canada. In addition, government authorities would be able to monitor all communications through BlackBerry devices. Second, BlackBerry will have to censor contents, which its users will get in their BlackBerry devices through the Internet. This would eliminate the moral concerns of most Middle East authorities and parents. Finally, BlackBerry must recognize that governments will always win in such cases. Hence, RIM must abide by the local laws of countries in which it operates. This would ensure the company’s business growth and economic gains.
On the other hand, the company must not insist on customers’ privacy and freedom of information in such countries because their laws do not recognize such issues.
Strategic lessons arising from the BlackBerry episode for MNCs operating in the technology arena
Many MNCs face serious challenges when operating outside their countries of origin due to various political, social, cultural, and economic concerns. MNC technology firms must note that regulations on privacy and free flow of information differ from one country to another. In addition, not all governments possess the technical skills to decrypt any form of encrypted data. Therefore, it is in their best interests to meet local laws and operate within such laws. Moreover, they also need to comprise on the privacy of their customers in order to allow governments to meet their security concerns. These are global operational risks, which MNCs must plan for to avoid future operational challenges.