Saudi and UAE could freeze Blackberry service


Saudi and UAE could freeze Blackberry service

Warwick Ashford

More than one million Blackberry users in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may be blocked from key services after authorities increased demands for access to encrypted messages sent over the device.

The authorities are concerned that data sent using Blackberry's Messenger application cannot be tracked locally because the data is encrypted and sent to offshore servers, unlike similar applications used by other smartphones from Nokia and Apple, according to Reuters.

The UAE's telecommunications authority issued a statement that said some applications allow Blackberry users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns.

The UAE plans to suspend Blackberry Messenger, e-mail and web browser services from 11 October until a fix is found, but Saudi Arabia could freeze Messenger before the end of August.

India raised similar security concerns last week that encrypted data could be used to coordinate acts against the state, and Bahrain in April warned against using Messenger to distribute local news.

India wants Blackberry maker Research In Motion to set up a proxy server in India to allow the government there to monitor traffic for security purposes.

Analysts said the same approach might resolve the issue in the UAE and other countries concerned about the secrecy afforded by Blackberry's encrypted messaging application.

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