UAE to block BlackBerry devices starting in October, Saudi Arabia to follow suit?

UAE to block BlackBerry devices starting in October, Saudi Arabia to follow suit?
Just a couple of days away from introducing the most exciting BlackBerry in its history, RIM is running into some problems in the Middle East. Because the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cannot monitor the use of BlackBerry phones in its country, certain features will not be able to be accessed by users of the devices starting October 11th. The UAE is claiming that "National Security" concerns due to the technology used on the phones is what is forcing them to come to this decision, which will prevent hundreds of thousands of 'Berry users from messaging, surfing the web or accessing e-mail. Reading and writing e-mail on the run is probably the one single feature that most users purchased their BlackBerry to do, and is the one capability (up to now, that is, prior to the launch of the new OS and browser) that the handsets do better than the competition. How popular and important is the BlackBerry to the pinstriped crowd? If the devices are indeed blocked from working, the UAE, a federation of  seven Arab emirates, could lose some of its status as a international place to do business.

Because BlackBerry encrypts data when it is routed overseas and local governments cannot monitor it, there is a concern that terrorists can use the network to engage in conversations that cannot be tapped into. Another view is that the UAE is using this block to control the spread of information in the country. The UAE is a major oil exporter and center of business in the region. Last year, the government owned carrier Etisalat told 145,000 BlackBerry users that they had to install software that was an "upgrade ... required for service enhancements." RIM later found out that the software was spyware that could let outsiders obtain information stored on the phone and told Berry users how to remove it from their device.

Saudi Arabia followed the UAE's statement by saying that they too would begin to block certain functions of BlackBerry handsets starting later this month. An anonymous official said that the Saudi telecommunications regulator would soon issue a statement about the issue later. However, Saudi Telecom's Ali Mohammed said that he had received no word from the ministry about BlackBerry phones. Other phone models are exempt from the block because the Berry unit is the only one that automatically sends user's data to servers overseas. While that makes the BlackBerry a more secure device for users, it makes it harder for countries to tap into lines for security reasons.

source: Yahoo

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