UAE calling BlackBerry a security risk; Future for device's unknown

By Adam Zeis on 26 Jul 2010 12:01 pm EDT
UAE Flag

The United Arab Emirates is calling BlackBerry devices a security risk. The UAE telecom regulator said "BlackBerry operates beyond the jurisdiction of national legislation" since the data services for the device all take place offshore and stated usage may have "serious social, judicial and national security repercussions". Since all BlackBerry data is relayed through servers that are not operated directly by local mobile carriers, their operation is said to be outside the national security legislation from 2007. There have been no comments from either the UAE or RIM directly, so the future of BlackBerry devices there is still unknown for the time being.

Source: Yahoo!

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

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UAE calling BlackBerry a security risk; Future for device's unknown


In other words: The encryption that RIM uses makes it impossible for the government to spy on the data going in and out of the users handhelds.

They are probably a lot more concerned about the notion that anyone using a BB can/will be subject to spying from a host of OTHER governments...

Some government is so fundamentally corrupted.
Badguys are much tech savy and outsmart gov. people.
If gov’s. can punish these badguys, then they can stop all the tech growth they use.
It’s easy….
If badguys eat mango and excel then cut all mango tree in country, but don’t take pain to go after them and punish them.
I hate all gov.’s excuses.

Government agencies all over the world know how Blackberries operate. RIM has a great reputation with device security and handling confidential information, which is why many corporations and agencies use them.

Guess what UAE? There is a risk with any type of communication device because there is no such thing as 100% secure. If you're looking for some device that is better than a Blackberry in terms of security, keep looking.
The only way you can be 100% sure that information is safe, is if you're in some underground bunker face to face with no electronic devices.

The issue the UAE has is that the information is stored outside of the UAE. So if an UAE official sends email or messages then the information leaves the country to go to RIM servers (where the UAE does NOT have teh authority to get info from - like they do with local telecom's).

I'm Australian and take some offence in that statement because I am apart of the free world and I will never acknowledge the government of America or its president especially as ruler of anything other than the US. So a better re phrasing of it would be "doesn't the commander and chief of the USA use a blackberry"

You wouldn't know this because you're Australian, but the poster DID say "the Free World." There is only ONE "the Free World," although you may live in a "free world." Why so uptight?

Does your post really have anything to do with Blackberry?

Hell, I am an American, and a veteran. If I was still in the service I wouldn't acknowledge Obama as my Commander in Chief either. He would be better placed as the Secretary General of the UN or some other harmless and useless organization like that.

Only a fool with a simplistic understanding of multilateral relations, no that's too generous, modern diplomacy, would call the Secretary-General of the UN a useless position.

This is Crackberry, and not the Go complain about Obama somewhere else.

Now back to the topic - wow, it would really suck if everyone in the UAE couldn't use beloved blackberries :(

This is why we should belt out the song "Proud to be an American" (or a different song if you're in another country that doesn't have goofy legislation like this).

From a security standpoint, I understand the fact that the data is going through offshore servers is a worry IF this was just for government use. It would fall under the same criteria such as the US military uses in only using 'US made' equipment.

The matter here really sucks for regular users who are being screwed over by their country.

If you read the article, it also mentions the update that the country tried pushing to spy on the phones. Seriously?

By the way the word 'secutiry' should be replaced with 'security' in the CB article ;)

Haha now I am spell checking every "security" word wondering if it was spelled wrong and I didn't notice...

I think it is more of a matter of control than security. RIM devices are outside of their government's control. The devices themselves aren't a security risk.

Knives can be use for chopping vegetable/fruits and neck too.
Who knows who’s sending what on BBM.
We don’t live in perfect gentleman’s world.
It’s a genuine concern, but the Genuinity can be questioned too.

This isn't about the security of an individual's data... this is about a government engaged in social engineering and their inability to control/monitor those data services. As it says, "BlackBerry operates beyond the jurisdiction of national legislation" means they can't monitor their populations communications.

The security response as far as government use actually makes sense but unfortunately they are just doing this in order to keep an eye on their citizens.

It's not a security issue as far as data security, it's a security issue as far as content control by a corrupt psuedotheocracy.

More than 60% percent of people use emails and text messaging for sending images, songs, videos, and may be some times some real valuable work related thing,

Governments hate BlackBerries because the data is securely encrypted and almost impossible to break. They can't just read the contents of our texts and emails on Berries like they can on ordinary cell phones.

Well I'm from UAE & I'm myself wondering why they wanna access the encrypted files. I believe this another drama or a reveange for last year's crisis when etisalat has spread this spyware through blackberry users saying that it is for security purposes. I really hate our service provider Etisalat I hope RIM wins in this issue cuz I would really throw my bb if etisalat will have the ability to access the encrypted data.

Yes, I can see blackberry being a security risk...... to dictators :) I bet you is to do with people posting things on twitter as well. They probably can't control that either.
I've grown up trough one dictatorship and I hope no more people have to grow up trough that.

This will sure have after effects in India as well. Indian government has been pressing RIM to provide with decryption code to monitor the traffic. So far RIM has not budged! Guess these are all side effects of terrorism!!


Anyway, this extends beyond the UAE: an increasing number of countries have been complaining about the security risks Blackberry's pose.

With BB's global market share increasing, and its recent entry into the Chinese market, I suspect this isn't the last we'll be hearing of it.

This is why americans are seen as uncaring. Maybe you should care because people in other countries are important too, also sometimes oroblems in 1 country can end up affecting other countries.

After reading the news online, it turns out that the cellular provider tricked the population to install an 'upgrade' that allowed government spying.

RIM responded with a countermeasure and criticism: earning the ire of the authorities. No judgement... just the facts please.

UAE is run by a dictatorship and its true that many has mentioned that its a 'security risk' cos they fail to spy on their own users. Period. What other security risks can a Blackberry pose? Having the USA gather confidential national secrets? Bug off, then don't use the service.
Bear in mind that UAE is a hotbed of religious-based terrorism and the majority population of UAE profess a religion that promotes terrorism, kidnapping and killing innocent people even of their own kind.

I'm not in the authority to say this, but in my personal opinion, RIM doesn't need their business.


Don't you mean Canada is gathering confidential national secrets? Aren't RIM's servers located at HQ in Waterloo?

My advice for people in this contries would be: don't install anything in your blackberry other then the official RIM apps, set a password, enable encryption, and possibly upgrade to an OS from a different carrier.
Is RIM storing anything though or data just passes trough their NOCs?

They probably all own one and are on them as we speak! lmao This is rediculous...I'm sure if they had founded the technology we wouldn't be having this discussion :)

My recommendation to people in this country is to get out of this country. It's not good, and if you have a brain in your head you'd realize this. There's far better alternatives. Even european nations, suffering from political and financial crisis, are better alternatives. Otherwise, come to North America and get out of there.

This is a golden opportunity for Steve Jobs and various Droid manufacturers to plead their case for making their respective "smart" phones the "official" phone of the UAE.
They can cite things like "Our phones are much less secure the RIM's and would therefore be less of a security risk."

This is so funny it could actually happen.

Oppressive regimes everywhere, not just UAE will fear any co which empowers its citizens with information security. This situation is quite similar to the one Google faced recently in China albeit the technology is different. I'd say the issue is virtually the same. It's a rare vote of confidence in something that RIM does well, albeit an indirect and reflexive one, at this time of bad headlines for RIM mostly. Now about those apostrophes! They're meant to be used in contracted words - I.e. two words made into one, like "it's" and to denote possession in certain cases - like "her's"

Do you even know what religion do they follow ? Do not speak stuff just based on bullshit what others may tell u. I stay in the UAE.I stay around people 24/7 who follow 'Islam' and as you mention definitely 'Majority' of the population do not promote terrorism,kidnapping, killing or whatever it is you mention. Do you even know the killing/kidnapping rates of UAE per year? It's much much lesser compared to your western countries & other islamic countries who end up taking religion in the wrong way. UAE amongst all the other middle east/islamic/gulf countries happen to be the most cosmopolitan country where people of all religions are treated equally with utmost respect. I agree the rules are a little crazy here but if you wanna receive all the pay benefits (reason why majority of people migrate here) you gotta follow the rules. To get something you gotta loose something !!

Regarding the blackberry security risk thingy, they haven't taken any measure till now. But anyhow why make it a big deal when we BB users have nothing to hide/worry about. Let the govt get a big slap on their face when they take unwanted measures & end up just wasting their time & money.

Lets make this place (at least CB ), a lingual/ religion free.
We are here to discuss about BB not about country.

I'm not 100% sure on how data is handled with RIM but if they give the UAE or any other country an encryption key, wouldn't that open up an oppertunity for them to use that to peek in on bb users in other countries? Even if the encryption is varied from country to country or even carrier to carrier, once they have the key they can alter it to decode other carriers/countries data. like I said, I don't know how it all works but it seems like there would be a way to us it to spy on others. I may have nothing to hide but I sure as hell don't want some one spying on me either.

I have a 10 hour layover in Abu Dhabi this Saturday night so I certainly hope they can hold off on this ban another week at least!

Undoubtedly it is a national security risk. For those of you who don't know blackberry phones (bbm and email) was used by the terrorists who killed 200 plus innocents people in the Mumbai attack in 2008. The government weren't able to intercept the message nor decode them. If RIM doesn't provide decryption keys the service should be banned in the interests of national security. There is no point sharing information at a later date since the damage would have already been done.

Read in a Reuters news release that the data from UAE is roted through RIM servers in the UK, not Waterloo, Canada. FYI...RIM does not route all their data through Waterloo, rather a few strategic geograhic locations in the world.

Seems UAE is not comfortable with a free world concept...

As a Dubai resident, I hate the thought that the government wants to read my BBM, but we also have to consider what they're up against.

This country has seen high-profile assassinations, terror threats, money laundering, corruption, etc. I kinda see their concern that BB is somewhat clandestine.

Also, from a legal perspective, SMS has been used in court because the records can be taken by subpena from the telco. I don't know if there is a legal precedent for BBM being used in the same way.

Another thought - I don't consider anything digital to be private. Email can be hacked. Computers can be hacked or stolen. Hard drives and USBs too. Maybe that's why I'm not losing sleep over this.

The UAE, great as it is for many things, has strict censorship rules, which include the media. There's little objectivity or impartiality unfortunately, so this reaction was to be expected for two reasons:

1. The moral issue - controlling what people think, say and might do.
2. Etisalat's hold on the telecoms market - they have been blocking Skype etc, claiming it illegally deprives the company of revenue. The irony of this point is that I have business people requesting to be called on Skype because the quality of the landline is so poor!

Stop BBs, and they'll be other ways for the subversive elements to communicate. Invisible ink; carrier pigeons; the human voice.

Since the UAE is intent on maintaining a status as a regional financial hub it would be wise to keep the RIM channels open.

I bet "Business Friendly Bahrain" is laughing itself stupid right now.