Lebanon will assess security concerns relating to the use of BlackBerry smartphones following the arrest of several telecoms employees suspected of spying for Israel, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) chairman said today. Imad Hoballah said the TRA planned to begin discussions with Research in Motion, BlackBerry's Canada-based manufacturer, next week. "This is prompted by the increase of security issues that have been found with the telecommunication networks in Lebanon," Mr Hoballah said.
"I am not doubting the ability of BlackBerry to maintain communication security," he said. "This is related to the ability of law enforcement agencies to access the data as may be required by law." He said the TRA had also initiated discussions with government agencies and ministries on this issue. Mr Hoballah added that the TRA's move was not in reaction to a decision by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to suspend BlackBerry services.
"We have been going through a security assessment for a while," he said. Lebanon has arrested three suspects over the past month in an expanding probe into an alleged network of Israeli spies employed in its telecoms sector. Two of the suspects worked at Alfa, one of Lebanon's two mobile service providers, and the third was a former employee. Press reports this week said an employee at Ogero, the government-owned telecom operator, had also been arrested.