John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Gulf States Worried About Offshore BlackBerry Leaks

If you can’t scan them, ban them.

The United Arab Emirates late Sunday said it will suspend BlackBerry mobile services like email, instant-messaging and Web-browsing unless Research in Motion (RIMM) agrees to make them easier to surveil. “BlackBerry data is immediately exported offshore, where it’s managed by a foreign, commercial organization,” the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in a statement. “Blackberry data services are currently the only data services operating in the UAE where this is the case. 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.”

Ironic that RIM’s encryption system, one of the chief reasons for its success in the enterprise world, is working against it in countries whose governments view it as a potential threat to national security

Saudi Arabia appears to be following the UAE’s lead. Sources in the kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission tell Reuters it is ordering a suspension of BlackBerry messenger services as well.

Analysts estimate that together the two gulf states have between 500,000 and 1 million Blackberry subscribers. That’s not a huge number–about two percent of RIM’s subscriber base– but it’s large enough that the company will almost certainly work out an agreement before the bans go into effect.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik