Sunday, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced they
would be blocking certain services -- Blackberry Messenger, e-mail,
and Web browsing -- on Blackberry devices because data exchanged
between devices can't be traced, Reuters reported.
BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal
judicial, social and national security concerns," the United
Arab Emirates' Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said in
data can't be traced by local authorities because it is encrypted and
sent to offshore servers, frightening authorities who say that it is
a threat to national security. India, Bahrain, and France have all
expressed concern over the services in the past, as well.
U.A.E., which contains economic powerhouse Dubai, will be suspending
Blackberry services as of October, while Saudi Arabia is believed to
be halting them this month.
has got nothing to do with this," Mohammed Al Ghanem, director
general of the UAE's TRA, told Reuters.
concerns center particularly on Research In Motion's Blackberry
devices, because similar handsets
from Nokia and Apple do not route data traffic the same way.According
to the The Washington
the ban will also apply to visitors to the country.
responded to the concerns yesterday by issuing a statement to assure
customers their data was safe, even from government wrenching, The
Wall Street Journal reported. An
excerpt from the report:
said the BlackBerry network was set up so that "no one,
including RIM, could access'' customer data, which is encrypted from
the time it leaves the device. It added RIM would "simply be
unable to accommodate any request'' for a key to decrypt the data,
since the company doesn't have the key.
to Reuters, RIM has more than 41 million Blackberry users
worldwide. The ban by U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, which, when combined,
have an estimated 1.2 million users, would affect roughly 3 percent
of Blackberry users.
UAE market in and of itself is not significant to RIM. A bigger
concern would be if it runs into similar issues in a large market
such as China, which has similar security concerns, as
Google is well aware of," an analyst told Reuters.
controversy comes just days after rumors of an iPad
challenger from RIM began swirling. The tablet device,
dubbed the "Blackpad," is expected to get an official
announcement from the Canadian company today.