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BlackBerry Services To Be Halted In UAE 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the blocking-the-tip-of-an-iceberg dept.
WrongSizeGlass writes "Bloomberg is reporting RIM's BlackBerry Messenger, e-mail and Web browsing services will be suspended in the United Arab Emirates, the Middle East's business hub, starting October 11th due to security concerns. RIM faces similar restrictions in India. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in a statement on state-run Emirates News Agency, 'In their current form, certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns for the UAE.' A senior Indian government official said, 'Though RIM has been fully cooperating ever since the matter was taken up with it in 2008, reports of the company's move to set up a server in China forced us to look at it in a different way.'"
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BlackBerry Services To Be Halted In UAE

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  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:50AM (#33100850) Journal

    Everything in UAE is either to do with censorship, or to do with money. Or both. I submitted this story myself earlier. Note that there's also coverage on this from the BBC here [bbc.co.uk]. Note that the TRA (the UAE's telecom regulatory agency) last year sent messages to Blackberry owners in the country instructing them to install an update which would improve performance. Not only did it not improve performance (actually caused crashes and shortened battery life for a reason you'll see in a second), but it actually forwarded received messages onto the goverment. Slashdot covered it last year here [slashdot.org].
    They're a scummy government. Blackberries are fairly popular in UAE (the lack of snooping is actually a plus, btw) and by threatening to make them illegal the government there is trying to force RIM who make them to hand over encryption keys or open up access to its customers in some other manner. If RIM have any sense, and I'm sure they have, they'll call TRA's bluff.

    UAE's government ain't that nice and the country is riddled with corruption and duplicity. Hell, this is the country where all the shops sell MP5 players. Why? Because they're newer than MP3 players. I try to find that funny but after a ten minute argument with someone from there who kept insisting his device was superior because "yeah, but mine's an MP5 player", I just lost the humour along the way, somewhere. UAE also does its best to fuck up Skype and any other VoIP services. (They don't do a very effective job, btw.)
  • Re:Emerging Rivalry (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2010 @10:37AM (#33101050)
    Greater commitment to democracy? India IS a democracy - a full fledged one, from 63 years! They have some flaws, but then which democracy doesn't?
  • Re:Emerging Rivalry (Score:5, Informative)

    by icegreentea (974342) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @11:09AM (#33101166)
    BlackBerrys are assembled in Canada, Mexico and Hungary. Most of the parts are manufactured from all across Asia (the low-end batteries are exclusively made in China, nearly all screens are made in Japan). It doesn't really look like that's really going to change in the future. In fact, I really don't know why RIM doesn't push this point more... it'll certainly please those pundits crying about the destruction of North America's manufacturing base. I mean, there's a BlackBerry factory right in Waterloo.

    As for India's complaint, the summary is leaving out some important information. Couple years back they pressed on RIM, and RIM relented, agreeing to allow Indian security agencies access to BB comms on request (they have similar arrangements with North American law enforcement and intelligence agencies I imagine). RIM did not agree to setup a local NOC (the server where all BB traffic flows) in India. Lately, RIM agreed to set up a NOC in China (giving Chinese agencies somewhat easier access to BB traffic), in exchange for being able to do business there. India is ticked off cause they wanted the same setup and is now pushing again. It's not a question of India getting access to local BB traffic, its a question of how easy it is for them to get it.
  • by CdBee (742846) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @11:18AM (#33101202)
    It actually shows some credit to RIM that they are willing to lose customers rather than submit to the 'national security concerns' of a nation that in many ways has a long way to go, developmentally.
  • by DRBivens (148931) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @12:41PM (#33101622) Journal

    "... services will be suspended"

    This, IMHO, is only hinting at the real problem: Blackberry internet services are provided through a central server (BIS or BES) that acts as a proxy; the handheld device doesn't access the HTTP, POP, or IMAP services directly (at least with the provided apps).

    RIM's encryption is pretty darned good, but this "server in the middle" method of operation gives some Security folks headaches because of the possibilities for mischief.

    While it is very nice for corporate monitoring and control, the downside is that a government can easily shut down BB services by blocking the server. If the BB was a true Internet client, this would not be the case.

     

  • by Dolphinzilla (199489) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @01:02PM (#33101734) Journal

    while I don't personally know that this goes on the UAE (probably) I do know that they are a pretty lenient Middle Eastern society - I have seen plenty of women in thongs on the beaches and plenty of local women in the malls dressed in standard western style (mini skirts, high heals, etc..), I've also seen groups of women with some in skirts and some fully covered in traditional fashion. You will never see that kind of stuff in Saudi or Jordan etc..

  • by Error27 (100234) <error27@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Sunday August 01, 2010 @05:38PM (#33103892) Homepage Journal

    I live in Zambia so I mostly know that area of Africa. The US was sponsering wars in Mozambique, Angola and Zaire as part of the cold war efforts.

    Also the if you look at Sudan the civil war with the south and the current crisis in Darfur are funded by European oil interests. Read up on the story of Tiny Roland. He made his money by funding rebel movements in exchange for land and minerals. He was a large SPLA funder.

    There is also a dictatorship in Equatorial Guinea funded by oil. The US is the largest foreign investor in that country.

  • by DRBivens (148931) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:32PM (#33105952) Journal

    What's the encryption got to do with the ability to wipe the data?

    It can make it easier and faster to render the data irrevokably unretrievable. If you want to wipe, say, a 32GB clear-text filesystem, you have to wipe out all the bits (multiple times, if you're following milspec guidelines).

    However, if that 32GB partition is encrypted, all you have to do is lose the key (assuming you're using a good cypher with strong keys). If you really want to be safe, destroying certain parts of the cyphertext will render it unusable, even with the keys.

    Either/both of these can be done lightning-fast, compared to the time required to wipe the physical media.

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