back to article UAE to cut off BlackBerry users

The United Arab Emirates will impose a ban on the email service on RIM's BlackBerry devices from October 1st this year because it's just too secure to be allowed to exist. BlackBerry-fumblers will however still be able to make phone calls, use SMS and MMS and browse the web freely. The ban was announced yesterday, and comes …


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  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Trawling I guess

    I can't imagine RIM ignoring a UAE court order, so this must be about unwarranted trawling by the gov. Sadly, I guess most others are doing the same, but just not so clearly on secure servers.

    RIM would be dumb to give in though, as the security of the service against simple interception is one of its corporate selling points. Better to publicly give up UAE and keep the rest of business & civil service user happy(er).

    1. Gaius

      It's not as simple as that

      BlackBerry is the combination of the handset and the BlackBerry servces back end - that is how they were able to do push email well before anyone else (and also why most BB contracts have a monthly charge for BB). This is BES (if you have an Exchange server, proxied via a RIM) or BIS (if you don't).

      All the govt has to do is require the telcos not to to talk back to RIM's datacentres. At that point the BB handset becomes just another smartphone.

      1. Dave Harris Silver badge

        exchange only?

        "This is BES (if you have an Exchange server...)"

        Er, BES doesn't only work with Exchange. it sits very happily with Domino as well

      2. Chad H.

        I'm not so sure about smartphone

        All the govt has to do is require the telcos not to to talk back to RIM's datacentres. At that point the BB handset becomes just another smartphone.


        Given how much goes through the blackberry APN (all web, email, maps) I don't think the term smartphone would apply to it any more if that was removed...

        1. Gaius


          The point is that BlackBerry can be blocked at the telco level very easily because there is the dependence on talking to RIM.

          PS LOL domino.

  2. Lou Gosselin

    Innocent will suffer?

    "Some argue that terrorists will simply move to better encryption systems and only the innocent will suffer, but that credits the terrorists with smarts they don't always possess."

    Isn't this the case with most laws? Law abiding citizens are restricted and at times burdened by laws while law breakers can often do as they please as long as they're smart enough not to get caught.

    Of course, laws should exist to protect people from actual violence and crime, but world governments these days are too eager to make crimes out of normal behavior. Where the hell did this entitlement come from?

    In a democracy, some might argue that the people are responsible for their own governments. But that's only true to a point, since people generally don't vote directly on issues/laws. They vote on politicians who, out of logically substantiated concern over their political career, are influenced by entities not representing public interest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agree with you,

      but the UAE is very far from being a democracy. Dubai (part of the UAE) is the country where skyoe is banned (except in the "free zone") because one of the crown princes owns the biggest telecoms company.

  3. Chris Miller

    Other smartphones

    make it obvious (to an eavesdropper) that you're using encrypted services, which might mark you out as a target for further surveillance in some cases. With a Blackberry there's no way for them to tell (except by asking RIM).

  4. Tom el Willis

    Visitors to UAE

    I presume this also affects roaming users from outside the UAE, for example from the UK. If so, then there will be lots of unhappy business people.

    If it doesn't affect roaming users, then that would be a way to bypass the ban, for the savvy terrorist. Whichever, this will probably not prove as complete and useful a solution as might be thought.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    The reason other smartphones such as the iPhone, Android & Windows Mobile phones are not part of this is because governments can already look/see/hear everything those users do.

    1. The Original Steve


      Can someone clear this up for me...

      If I have a SHA-256 encrypted channel between handset and on-premises Exchange server for push email, how exactly can the government intercept this?

      (I can only think of a SSL proxy for intercept as I do here for web browsing - however I would have thought there would be more uproar about this and that it would have been employed by the Government via ISP's including fixed line providers)

      1. chr0m4t1c

        At a guess

        I don't know any technical details of the BB service, but presumably they could block the SSL port for "other" services, leaving you with a choice of using the un-encryped port or abandoning e-mail.

        It's possible that BB mail only has an encrypted channel, which they are now planning to block.

  6. JaitcH

    What they want is what other governments have - access

    RIM has stated it has agreements with 175 governments with respect to it's services. The US has access to RIM's servers (located in Canada) as does the Canadian government.

    Basically you cannot trust any cell network provider to maintain your privacy. Better to use separate encryption software even if you have to plug a module in between your headset and your cell. Running software on the cell is no guarantee of privacy with the access that some Apps get.

    Using a General Dynamics' Sectera Edge (USD$3,350) would circumvent Peeping Toms or PhoneCrypt Mobile for people with smaller budgets.

    The emirates are supposedly encouraging businesses to set up offices in their sheikdoms and messing with privacy is hardly 'business friendly'.

  7. Andrew Garrard

    Am I the only one... think that I didn't know there was an Amiga emulator for Blackberries?

  8. Daniel B.

    Free BlackBerry publicity!

    This incident, like the one in India before this one, gives a pretty clear idea to consumers: Blackberries use such badass crypto that foreign governments are unable to crack it. Most security-oriented people will take this into mind when choosing their next smartphone.

    Other smartphones should be pretty capable of doing serious crypto, but RIM's on the news. Nice!

    1. Witty username

      And yet

      Jack Bauer still uses some shitty flip phone from ~2001

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