Looming UAE suspension of BlackBerry services concerns Canada

20:26, August 06, 2010      

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Canadian officials say they are doing what they can to resolve a looming government ban on some BlackBerry services in the United Arab Emirates.

"The government of Canada is aware of the news reports regarding a ban on some BlackBerry services in the United Arab Emirates. We are concerned about these reports and their broader implications," Peter Van Loan, the minister of international trade, said Thursday.

Van Loan said his government is working with Research in Motion, the Canadian telecommunication company that developed the widely used BlackBerry smartphone, and the UAE government to resolve the situation.

The UAE has decreed that some BlackBerry services, such as e-mail, web browsing and instant messaging, will be banned in October. That's unless RIM allows the government greater access to encrypted information sent by the phones that gets routed through the company's computers overseas.

The UAE is one of several countries reportedly considering banning some BlackBerry services over concerns that its encrypted traffic is difficult to monitor.

Authorities in neighboring Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia and most recently Lebanon have expressed similar concerns.

The issue has now become essentially political, with Ottawa acting as an intermediary between RIM and the governments considering bans.

The central point of uncertainty is exactly what RIM can or will do to help foreign governments monitor BlackBerry communication.

RIM has flatly stated it can't monitor encrypted data because it doesn't have the encryption key, but the UAE maintains that the powers it is asking for are nothing more than what RIM already provides to other countries, including the United States.

RIM issued a statement Tuesday denying it has given some governments access to Blackberry data.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowly on Monday called the UAE's action "a move in the wrong direction."

Van Loan said the UAE's move to ban some BlackBerry services is especially unusual since the country is attempting to position itself as a global hub for business and travel.

Source: Xinhua


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