Print 18 comment(s) - last by Ammohunt.. on Aug 5 at 1:41 PM

  (Source: Photo by Kamran Jebreili / Associated Press)
Gulf countries to halt BlackBerry services, citing national security fears

On 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.

"Certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns," the United Arab Emirates' Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said in a statement.

The 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. 

The 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.

"Censorship has got nothing to do with this," Mohammed Al Ghanem, director general of the UAE's TRA, told Reuters

The 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 Post, the ban will also apply to visitors to the country.


RIM 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:

RIM 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.

According 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.

"The 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.

The 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.

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Um, yeah.....
By marvdmartian on 8/3/2010 9:20:53 AM , Rating: 4
"Censorship has got nothing to do with this," Mohammed Al Ghanem, director general of the UAE's TRA, told Reuters.

Um, yeah....I think I'd have to throw the BULLSHIT flag on that one! The UAE members have a track record of being pretty strict in their Muslim beliefs, so censorship would definitely be a good reason for them to block data streams they couldn't track.

Looks like no more secret porn in the UAE!!

RE: Um, yeah.....
By leexgx on 8/3/2010 11:50:12 AM , Rating: 2
an VPN link out side of that state or any state that blocks RIM is all thats needed to fix this block

RE: Um, yeah.....
By Ammohunt on 8/3/2010 1:50:44 PM , Rating: 4
This is what happens when you thrust a primative culture into the modern age. More proof that Muslim culture is not compatible with Western Civilization.

RE: Um, yeah.....
By dubldwn on 8/3/2010 2:14:52 PM , Rating: 2
Read blueeyesm's link below:
While it would be lovely to think our communications were secure from authoritarian observance, most of us accept that there are times when the security services need to intercept electronic communications

This is from the UK. A lot of people think this violation of civil rights is acceptable. Including those in "Western Civilization."

RE: Um, yeah.....
By Ammohunt on 8/3/2010 6:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
A country where as of 2007 the 2nd most popular boy name is Muhammad. Islamification a real threat?

RE: Um, yeah.....
By dashrendar on 8/4/2010 10:27:39 PM , Rating: 1
Well, Muhammad is one of the most popular names in the 'world', so what does that mean, genius? The whole world is becoming a threat to itself maybe?

RE: Um, yeah.....
By Ammohunt on 8/5/2010 1:41:36 PM , Rating: 2
It means you should go get fitted for your Burqua.Allah Ackbar!

RE: Um, yeah.....
By DarkElfa on 8/3/2010 3:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
The Muslim culture as it exists now is not compatible with civilization, period.

RE: Um, yeah.....
By gorehound on 8/3/2010 3:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
I am so sick of that Muslim world and their primitive backwards attitudes.Western world is not compatible with their censored and brainwashed way of life.
I wish for the day when we do not ever have to buy a drop of oil from them.Hope it comes soon.I have no issues with other folks religion but do have issues with human rights and those people over there are so screwed compared to the freedoms we in the western world have.

RE: Um, yeah.....
By dashrendar on 8/4/2010 10:12:20 PM , Rating: 1
Hahah, oh wait you're not joking...

First of all, why do you care? You should be glad they have primitive backwards attitudes, because if they were civilized and had the oil, you would be in deep shit. Haven't you asked yourself why Bush keeps kissing the Saudis' asses instead of punishing them for human rights violations and mind-numbing backwardness?

You know what's worse than primitiveness? Hypocrisy and double standards.. Two things the western civilizations excel at.

RE: Um, yeah.....
By dashrendar on 8/4/2010 10:07:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm actually with Blackberry on this, but I saw your comment and I had to reply. Now, if it's a religious thing, why doesn't the UAE ban all data services period? Why target Blackberry?

Also, what other primitive culture just came up with the Internet kill switch?

RIM not having access is BULLS$!T
By SpaceRanger on 8/3/2010 9:32:58 AM , Rating: 4
According to this Reuter's Article:

RIM is going to allow India access to the email services. How can RIM say "We can't give you that.. We don't have the keys"???

By Drag0nFire on 8/3/2010 10:48:06 AM , Rating: 2
Hahaha. Sounds like someone didn't tell RIM's PR guy the whole story... whoops.

Congradulate RIM
By Yeah on 8/3/2010 12:54:42 PM , Rating: 3
I personally think this says something for a company that works hard to keep information private. There was a comment above about providing RIM email addresses, well thats a security risk but not as much as providing a decrypt key for the data on the phone. Corporations I think will be pleased to know that their data should be ' safe ' from prying eyes on the RIM network. I think that is commendable.

RE: Congradulate RIM
By SpaceRanger on 8/3/2010 5:48:07 PM , Rating: 2
Congratulate them on what??? Folding like a cheap suitcase? They "lied" in saying they technically couldn't do it, and then decided to tell India, "Ok.. you can monitor this stuff".

By blueeyesm on 8/3/2010 9:19:46 AM , Rating: 3
"The UAE-owned operator, Etisalat, did try to get snooping software onto BlackBerry handsets with a faked upgrade that failed in spectacular fashion. That really annoyed RIM, so now the UAE government faces crawling to RIM to ask for access to the servers, or just banning the devices from the country."

access to rim's comms...
By croc on 8/3/2010 7:30:58 PM , Rating: 2
Rim gives such access to the NSA, UK, India, a few others. They'd give it to China if it meant selling Rim there or not...

Interestingly, the USA (NSA) demanded such access as a condition of Rim's using routers / routes that crossed the USA.

By cnar77 on 8/4/2010 1:52:15 AM , Rating: 2
For persons using corporate BES servers from RIM the encryption keys exist between the phone and the server. For those using the carrier to provide BB service it is between the phone and the carrier's server.

No matter where I travel in the world the keys used are unique to my companies BES and my phone. My email leaves encrypted through the carriers GSM network across the internet or some backbone to my corporate BES server which then sends that mail out the corporate exchange server.

For messenger if the person is a co-worker all comms exist between the BES and our phones all the carrier gets is white noise.

RIM is telling the truth. There is no golden key that lets you read anything. However your architecture can enable it. If RIM manages a server in India for one of the carriers that offers BB service for both corporate and consumer then that server allows for monitorring. But the company has to be careful because many foreign companies exist that use BBs to transmit confidential business information. If you can't use your BB knowing you have some degree of privacy from a government trying to attain trade secrets etc then executives, lawyers, scientist, WTO negotiators etc have to go back from mobile communication.

If the phone or OS can make VPN connections, users would have to use the data connection and connect to an office VPN router/concentrator and use a mobile mail app that will use this VPN link and perform push notification.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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