BlackBerry maker Research In Motion says that its PlayBook tablet computer has been given security certification to be used by U.S. federal government agencies.

"This certification demonstrates our continued commitment to meeting the needs of security-conscious organizations and enables the U.S. federal government to buy with confidence knowing that the PlayBook meets their computing policy requirements for protecting sensitive information," RIM senior vice-president Scott Totzke said in a statement.

RIM devices are known for their security and strong encryption to protect data.

Research In Motion didn't say if orders for the PlayBook have been placed yet by the U.S. government.

1st tablet approved

The Waterloo, Ont., company said the PlayBook is the first tablet to be approved for use by the United States federal government.

The product entered a crowded market when it went on sale in April and many observers have said RIM was slow to bring out a tablet to compete with Apple's iPad. RIM has countered that it's aiming for a different market segment and meets demands from the company's existing customer base.

The current version of the PlayBook can be tethered to a Blackberry smartphone via a bridge application for access to the smartphone's email, calendar, address book and instant messaging service.

RIM has also said it will release cellular versions of the PlayBook for various networks, including advanced, faster networks that can easily handle TV watching, video streaming and music listening which will require monthly data plans from wireless carriers.

The PlayBook received lukewarm reviews on the heels of the much-publicized launch of Apple's iPad 2 — which flew off store shelves and has remained one of the hottest tech gadgets on the global market.

Shares in the BlackBerry maker gained $1.10 or 4.4 per cent to close at $26.36 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.