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Gulf states block BlackBerry functions

by Sarah Griffiths on 2 August 2010, 12:32


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BlackBerry ban

Two Gulf states have cited security concerns as their key reason for banning certain BlackBerry functions.

According to the BBC, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will ban accessing the internet, sending emails and instant messages from BlackBerrys from October, while Saudi Arabia will block BlackBerry-to-BlackBerry instant messages starting later this month.

Both Gulf states are reportedly frustrated they cannot monitor communications sent from and between the handsets and have said the ban is an attempt to tighten security. BlackBerry handsets send encrypted messages to computer servers located outside the countries, resulting in the Gulf states' inability to police communications sent. 

A board member of state-controlled Saudi Telecom, Abdulrahman Mazi, admitted to the BBC that Saudi Arabia's decision to ban some BlackBerry functions is designed to put pressure on the company to hand over users' data from their messages ‘when needed'. 

Meanwhile, TRA, the UAE's telecoms regulator reportedly said BlackBerry's failure to meet local laws resulted in "judicial, social and national security concerns."

Research in motion (RIM), which makes the Blackberry reportedly said it: "does not disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government. However, RIM assures its customers that it is committed to continue delivering highly secure and innovative products that satisfy the needs of both customers and governments."

While the move is estimated to affect around half a million BlackBerry users in the region, this is thought to count for less than 3 percent of RIM's customers worldwide.

The UAE's regulator was keen to dispel criticism of censorship, with its director general, Mohammed al-Ghanem reportedly insisting: "Censorship has got nothing to do with this. What we are talking about is suspension due to the lack of compliance with UAE telecommunications regulations."

According to the BBC, TRA tried to install Spyware on BlackBerry phones last year and was denied access to RIM's encrypted networks in 2007. 

India has also previously raised concerns about BlackBerry's practices, saying they could be used by extremists.

HEXUS Forums :: 12 Comments

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In the Middle-East, all the countries are Islamic countries. And, in Islam, adultery is prohibited. As such, porn sites are blocked.

I think as the BB connections don't go through a ISP, ppl in those countries can watch porn through a BB. :)
When will these silly religions grow up and realise its the 21st century :/
when will these silly religions grow up and realise its the 21st century :/

When will these silly religions grow up and realise its the 21st century :/
Erm, hate to get in the way of your xenophobia*, but I think you'll find that the ‘requirement’ for the law enforcement to get access is a local legal issue, not a religious one, (although I'll be the first to admit that it's difficult to tell which is which when the Saudi's are involved ).

* ;)

Maybe I'm taking the simple/naive view, but if the UAE/Saudi police have “reasonable cause” (i.e. aren't on a fishing expedition) and the person of interest is in their country then I can't see why RIM should refuse a request for info. Surely that's a similar arrangement to the one I guess the FBI, DHS, MI5, etc have.

:(, Wars and fighting over whos beliefs are the best is just plain silly.