The Fate of Blackberry’s in the UAE

Since we are in the second day of October, a lot of you might be wondering what’s happening with the Blackberry issue in the UAE, considering that there is just another week to go before a final decision on the matter is to be made. What is really happening with the Blackberry’s is something that my wife asked me yesterday as well, since she is an avid use of the BBM service and such. Before we look at it we need to look at what is the reason the blackberry’s were threatened to be banned earlier.

The UAE government along with other governments have actually made a decision that Blackberry is a potential threat device considering that they cannot monitor the calls or messages on the cell phone and the messenger services. The Indian Government was one of the first, and Blackberry reacted to it. RIM The maker of the BlackBerry smartphone had granted India’s government manual access to its Messenger service and has promised automated access by Jan. 1. But, Reuters yesterday reported that the India’s telecommunications ministry has rejected a solution offered by Research In Motion’s (RIM) to access its email and messaging services after security agences were unable to access messages sent using BlackBerry devices within the country.

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It appears the solution offered data to authorities but secure email communications were not presented in a readable format whilst agencies could not intercept chats sent via the Messenger service whatsoever.  Over the past few weeks, government sources told Reuters that there were technical glitches in talks between India and RIM to corporate email although messenger services were “satisfactory”. Amendments will be made to RIM’s offerings, the company faces a ban on its BlackBerry services if it cannot provide messages in a readable format.

What does this mean to the UAE ? Considering that the TRA in UAE took over 4 years to listen to pleads from thousands of users to Unblock Flickr in the UAE, it does not seem likely that they will be in favour of removing the Ban. What I do not understand is how a progressive country and economy can block access to such a feature rich device, knowing well that the structure of the device and the ecosystem around it is such that even RIM cannot provide access to it.

Unfortunately for RIM, the encryption of the messages and services on a Blackberry phone happen on the phone itself and not on the server of RIM as governments have previously thought so. This actually was one of the finest features that drove business to adopt the Blackberry readily. I can already see high profile investors shying away from the UAE as Blackberry users seem to be really “in Love” with their devices and are dependant on the connectivity on a large extent. This could make a difference in Dubai and the UAE in general trying to make a economic come back. This might be far fetched, but true. Let just hope that for all of us, for consumer protection and for freedom of service usage, this Ban in the UAe does not kick in, in a week.

In the mean time you can start looking for alternatives or have a read on more Blackberry ban issue here on my blog with these links below :

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