UAE to block many BlackBerry services in October
By ADAM SCHRECK
AP BUSINESS WRITER
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The United Arab Emirates said Sunday it plans to block some messaging and Web services on BlackBerry smart phones, days after it warned the device could pose a potential threat to national security and social values.
The UAE telecommunications watchdog said it will suspend messaging, e-mail and Web browsing services starting October 11.
Regulators say the devices operate outside of laws put in place after their introduction in the country. The government said it is singling out the BlackBerry, and not other phones that can access e-mail and the Web, because the devices automatically send users' data to servers overseas, where local laws don't apply.
Analysts and activists say that makes it harder for authorities to monitor what users are saying or doing, renewing questions about the UAE's efforts to control the flow of information in the conservative country that is home to the Gulf business capital Dubai and the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Regulators said they had failed to reach an agreement with device maker Research in Motion on the issue.
"With no solution available and in the public interest, in order to effect resolution of this issue, as of October 11, 2010, Blackberry Messenger, Blackberry E-mail and Blackberry Web-browsing services will be suspended until an acceptable solution can be developed and applied," Telecommunications Regulatory Authority director-general Mohamed al-Ghanim said in a statement.
"The TRA notes that Blackberry appears to be compliant in similar regulatory environments of other countries, which makes noncompliance in the UAE both disappointing and of great concern," he added.
Regulators say the lack of compliance with local laws raises "judicial, social and national security concerns for the UAE," according to Sunday's statement.
A spokeswoman for Research in Motion said the Canadian company had no immediate comment.
Re: UAE To Block Many BlackBerry Services In October.
I read the story, It makes little sense but it shows that the country may not be as "business friendly" as was once assumed. I read the story from the NYT. It was noted that IPhone and other smart phone do not seem to have this problem.
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BlackBerry ban in UAE will reportedly extend to visitors, too
BlackBerry ban: Visitors to Dubai will have to do without BlackBerry e-mail, messaging and Web services starting in October, as the United Arab Emirates imposes a ban on the mobile devices.
A man speaks on his mobile phone as he stands next to a display of a BlackBerry at a shopping mall in Dubai August 1. Manufacturer Research In Motionwas hit with its first BlackBerry ban on Sunday after the United Arab Emirates, citing security risks, said BlackBerry services would be barred in October.
Heeeeeeeeeeey! My husband don quench be dat o!
Anyhoo....he has purchased an I-Phone as a back up....(He was actually jolosing my I-phone)
Re: UAE To Block Many BlackBerry Services In October.
UAE reverses plan to ban BlackBerry
Abu Dhabi, Uae (CNN) -- The United Arab Emirates will not implement a planned ban on all BlackBerry services that was to have gone into effect next week, the state news agency said Friday.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority confirmed that all BlackBerry services have conformed to the agency's regulations, the WAM news agency said.
As a result, authorities will not follow through with a ban on services that was to have gone into effect on Monday.
The news agency did not immediately say how Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that produces the BlackBerry, conformed to the regulatory authority's concerns.
"RIM cannot discuss the details of confidential regulatory matters that occur in specific countries, but RIM confirms that it continues to approach lawful access matters internationally within the framework of core principles that were publicly communicated by RIM on August 12," the company said in a statement.
In August, the UAE threatened to block access to e-mail, web browsing and text messages on the popular smartphone if Research In Motion didn't provide government access for security investigations.
The BlackBerry is the dominant smartphone in the UAE, where the capital, Abu Dhabi, and the emirate of Dubai are major business hubs of the Middle East.
The threatened ban would have affected more than a half-million BlackBerry users in the country, as well as visitors to Dubai and the rest of the emirates.
For consumers, the UAE controversy represents a growing battle between digital companies and governments over data security.
While companies like BlackBerry want to ensure their users' privacy, governments increasingly want access for security reasons.
BlackBerry messages are encrypted to keep them from being deciphered by anyone who might intercept them. Other companies, like Google, have added encryption -- in Google's case, after some private data was compromised, setting off a public spat with China's government.
Operating systems such as the iPhone's and Google's Android often store information "in the clouds," meaning over the internet, while BlackBerry sends data to its own offshore servers, said Tim Beyers, a senior technology analyst for The Motley Fool, a financial services company. However, virtually all smartphone systems geared toward corporate clients are encrypted, he noted.
While various companies have agreed to offer "back doors" for governments when they're investigating potential security threats, BlackBerry's stock in trade has been privacy.
"RIM has been known as the very buttoned-down, corporate smartphone supplier," Beyers said in August. "Security is the No. 1 reason that perception has remained. That is their competitive advantage and anything that dilutes that story dilutes their corporate advantage and makes it harder for Research in Motion to grow."