No Blackberry in the Desert
SUBHEAD: Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates ban Blackberry phone smart services. Image above: Mashup of Saudi desert and blackberry bush by Juan Wilson. By David Knowles on 2 August 2010 for AOL News - (http://www.aolnews.com/surge-desk/article/rim-wont-bend-to-blackberry-blackout-in-middle-east-but-still-loses-services/19577974) Paging Dubai, paging Dubai, do you read me? For BlackBerry phone customers in the Middle Eastern metropolis, the answer may soon be "no," or more accurately, dead silence. But that doesn't mean that the company that makes the phones is going quietly. Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced they would be banning many of the functions offered on BlackBerry phones starting in October, rendering the popular messenger devices into little more than conventional cell phones. Not backing down from the threat, Research in Motion (RIM) -- the Ontario-based company behind the phones -- declared in a press release today that it would "not compromise the integrity and security of the BlackBerry" by turning over its users' private information to "any third party to read encrypted information under any circumstances," The Wall Street Journal reported today. Although it did not mention the countries or proposed bans by name, RIM claimed that disabling its security features was impossible and antithetical to the very idea of the BlackBerry itself. "BlackBerry security architecture was specifically designed to provide corporate customers with the ability to transmit information wirelessly while also providing them with the necessary confidence that no one, including RIM, could access their data," the company said in a statement. According to RTE Business, there are over 700,000 BlackBerry subscribers in Saudi Arabia and 500,000 in the United Arab Emirates, and those governments say they'll enforce the restriction of the phone's functions -- namely wireless Internet and messaging services -- over national security concerns and the ability to police illegal activity. Data from BlackBerry devices is automatically sent and stored in computers outside the Middle East, The Associated Press reported, which prevents it from being monitored by the local governments, which are ostensibly concerned with crime and international terrorism. For example, the terrorists who coordinated the attacks on Mumbai in 2008 used BlackBerrys to communicate with one another, as well as to gauge global response on the Web. .