Keeping national security as prime concern, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) has announced today that BlackBerry’s Email, web browsing and chat services will be terminated inside the country very soon. “In the public interest, we have today informed the providers of telecommunications services in the country of our decision to suspend the Blackberry services of messenger, email and electronic browsing,” stated Mohammed al-Ghanem, the chief of the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
“Today’s decision is based on the fact that, in their current form, certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national-security concerns,” continued the government’s statement. According to al-Ghanem, “It’s a final decision,” but they are continuing discussions with Canadian-based Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry device.
The U.A.E. ban, due to start Oct. 11, was the result of the “failure of ongoing attempts, dating back to 2007, to bring BlackBerry services in the U.A.E. in line with U.A.E. telecommunications regulations,” the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said Sunday. Some BlackBerry services “operate beyond the enforcement” of current telecommunications regulations in the country, the government said.
The issue lies at the heart of BlackBerry Data communication. Unlike other phones, BlackBerry encrypt the data before it travels across the network and get it handled by company’s Canada based Data Centre. Due to such process, its almost impossible for the country’s regulatory authority to monitor the communication which can have serious negative impact on country’s security concern.
According to Wall Street Journal, currently there are three major country’s, UAE, Saudi & India, who have objection towards such process. In order to monitor Terrorist or any illegal electronic communication, country’s regulatory authority can tap or monitor any such communication which is impossible in case of BlackBerry due to encryption.
Within hours of the announcement, Saudi Arabian telecoms and a government official said that the Arab nation would be banning the BlackBerry Messenger feature. While both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are relatively small markets for RIM, the ban could be a catalyst for action by India, which is also in a dispute with the BlackBerry maker over how it handles data.
UAE officials has said that intimation has been expressed to the telecom providers and we have asked them to start working towards migration of their blackberry clients immediately. After UAE and Saudi, it would be interesting to see the move of Indian government for BlackBerry’s future in India.
I would like to ask all my readers what they thing about such action and how far its feasible to suspend such services in the country. Do let us know your views in comment section.
UPDATES : On Tuesday Saudi Government decided to turn down BlackBerry services on Friday, 6th August. In UAE, BlackBerry services will be terminated from 11 October 2010. All the Telecom providers have been guided to shift their users to alternates.