UAE and Saudi Arabia to Ban Some Blackberry Functions

Photo: Arab Guide

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates plan to ban some functions on the Blackberry, citing security concerns.

The UAE plans to block Internet access, sending emails and delivering instant messages to other Blackberry devices. Saudi Arabia plans to block instant messages between Blackberry devices.

Both nations are unhappy with their inability to monitor the communications sent using the devices, according to the BBC. The handsets automatically send the data, which is encrypted, to servers which do not reside in either country.

The UAE will start its ban in October and Saudi Arabia plans to begin its ban in November. The moves are intended to pressure Research in Motion (RIM), Blackberry’s owner, to release user communications data “when needed,” according to Abdulrahman Mazi, a board member of state-controlled Saudi Telecom.The telecom regulator TRA in the UAE also said the company was failing to comply with local laws raising “judicial, social and national security concerns.”

However, RIM 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.”

The UAE regulators claim the move has nothing to do with censorship, however.

“Censorship has got nothing to do with this,” said TRA director general Mohammed al-Ghanem. “What we are talking about is suspension due to the lack of compliance with UAE telecommunications regulations.”

Last year, the TRA attempted to install spyware on Blackberrys and back in 2007, RIM refused to provide TRA with the code to RIM’s encrypted networks for monitoring communications.

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