More than a million BlackBerry users may have key services in Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut off after authorities stepped up demands on smartphone maker Research In Motion for access to encrypted messages sent over the device.
BlackBerry’s Messenger application has spread rapidly in the Gulf Arab region but because the data is encrypted and sent to offshore servers, it cannot be tracked locally.
“Certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns,” the United Arab Emirates’ Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said in a statement.
The UAE said it would suspend BlackBerry Messenger, email and Web browser services from October 11 until a fix was found, while industry sources said Saudi Arabia had ordered local telecom companies to freeze Messenger this month…
India raised similar security concerns last week, and Bahrain in April warned against using BlackBerry Messenger to distribute local news. As far back as 2007, France cautioned officials about using the services…
Users of the device said that could mean disruptions for companies and individuals who rely on the services, including almost 700,000 in Saudi Arabia and some 500,000 in the UAE.
Frankly, it sounds as much a problem of government officials distrusting RIM – as much as simple censorship.