By Henry Kenyon
August 03, 2010
The United Arab Emirates will soon suspend most functions for BlackBerry
mobile phones, in a dispute over access to the smart phone's
communications. In an announcement this Sunday, the Emirate's
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority stated that on Oct. 11, it will
block mobile services such as e-mail and text messaging, but not voice
The ban is part of a longstanding dispute between the Persian Gulf state
and Research In Motion, the smart phone's Canadian producer. According
to both the New York Times and the Associated Press, the heart of the
dispute centers on RIM's unwillingness to let the UAE's government
access the secure Web-based communications used by BlackBerry wireless
Governments throughout the region worry that the smart phone users, who
are primarily business users or young and technology savvy, will use the
encrypted communications for anti-government purposes. The UAE has some
500,000 BlackBerry subscribers.
The Associated Press noted that the UAE contends that some BlackBerry
features operate outside of the country's laws, "causing judicial,
social and national security concerns." BlackBerry devices encrypt their
data and route it through the company's overseas routers. This automatic
encryption makes it almost impossible for authorities to monitor.
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