First UAE, Now India Moves To Ban Blackberry Services

by PYB James | Aug 01, 2010

Some of the biggest news to hit the web this year when the UAE, citing national security concerns, decided to ban e-mail, web browsing and messaging on the BlackBerry smart phone.

Although discussions are continuing between UAE and RIM, it seems that the ban will go ahead indefinitely according to Mohammed al-Ghanem, the chief of the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA),

“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. 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”.

So why the sudden decision to ban one of the country’s most popular smart phone providers?

It seems the ban has come about due to the way in which RIM handles BlackBerry data. BlackBerry data is encrypted and routed overseas through RIM’s network center in Canada, essentially blocking UAE’s TRA from monitoring the encrypted data being sent.

Much of the problem seems to surround the issues of crime and terrorism. Without the ability to monitor data, the UAE would have to rely on RIM to hand over data for criminal investigations.

Now it seems that India is also following in the UAE’s footsteps as it has now given Blackberry phone maker RIM a deadline of 31 August to give the government access to all of its services or face being shut down.

Responding to the Indian government's statement, RIM said it tried to be as cooperative as possible with governments "in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements."

It seems that RIM is not willing to unlock its encrypted data, not only to protect the civil rights of it messenger users, but because they do not possess a "master key" to gain "unauthorised access" to data sent through its devices that would allow RIM or any third party to gain access.

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