The United Arab Emirates have announced that email, web browsing services and instant messaging from Blackberry mobile phones have been officially banned, following government worries over data encryption.
Blackberry cellular devices, made by the Canadian company Research in Motion (RIM), have been targeted by the Government of the UAE as a “threat to national security” due to the manner in which they transfer data.
Blackberry’s have been a thorn in the side of the UAE bigwigs for some time now, the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) last week issued a statement that said: “As a result of how Blackberry data is managed and stored, in their current form, certain Blackberry applications allow people to misuse the service, causing serious social, judicial and national security repercussions.”
The problems lie with the fact that data travelling via Blackberry devices ends up being exported out of the country to foreign servers, and the encryption process makes monitoring more difficult, prompting concerns that the ban is a censorship issue.
However the TRA have been quick to say that censorship is not the issue, with regulatory compliance cited as the reason for the ban: “We are not asking for RIM to do anything that is not apparently being done in developed nations or so-called open countries around the world”.
All users of the Blackberry in the Gulf, thought to be around 500,000, will find their services suspended from 11 October later in the year.