Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blackberry ban in the UAE?

Research in Motion (RIM) is adamant that it does not give any Government the power to tap into Blackberry data – monitor yes, tap in to, no.

The ban on Saudi Arabia’s Messenger service (which was due to come into being the first week of August) was halted as RIM managed to reach an agreement with the Saudi Government to give them a greater control over data services.

The United Arab Emirates is also threatening a ban to take affect from October, as it does not believe it has the same surveillance rights to Blackberry as the US. The UAE wants more access to some services.

The Saudis will be able to monitor Blackberry data once a server is installed by RIM – until now servers have been in RIM’s home country of Canada. RIM pointed out previously that any submission from their side that resulted in a third party accessing encrypted information from Blackberry traffic would undermine its security status hugely, hence, it would not allow such a violation.

A recent Reuters report, however, questions RIM’s statements of guaranteed privacy – the report states that as long as court orders are in hand US law enforcers can tap into Blackberry customer data.

‘The ability to tap communications is a part of surveillance and intelligence and law enforcement all over the world,’ said Mark Rasch, former head of the computer crimes unit at the US Department of Justice.

Most smartphone makers, such as Apple, Nokia and Motorola leave the data management of their devices to the customer. RIM manages its own traffic of messages, which puts it in a position of power, but a rather awkward one.

RIM is trying to straddle both sides – looking after the client but also working with a Government on possible crime issues. The question is – can it keep everyone happy?

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