Gulf Arab States to Block Blackberry

UAE and Saudi Arabia are set to block Blackberry email service because it is too secure. Both nations are unhappy that they can’t read email sent via the Blackberry device because all of the messages are encrypted and transferred to RIM servers in Canada for delivery. If the recipient is also a Blackberry, the message transfer is encrypted end-to-end. Thus, no snooping. There are close to a million Blackbery users collectively in UAE and Saudi and their devices are about to stop working.

But what is the point? This is simply an inconvenience to legitimate users and unlikely to yield any security benefit because there is nothing to stop people from using web-based email encrypted over SSL (like gmail) or other smart phones such as Android and iPhone which supported transport layer security ensuring that nobody is snooping on the message traffic to the server.

Also, unless they plan to block all Blackberry data service, there is nothing stopping Blackberry users from using a non-RIM email app like the gmail app for Blackberry or RIM’s gmail plugin.

Is Dubia really planning to disable all Blackberry mail service in October? How does that gibe with their desire to be an international business hub?

I’m left scratching my head because this seems totally irrational.

Update

It seems UAE is taking a much harder line on this. They are planning to block all data service to the Blackberry handset. Saudi is only interested in blocking the Blackberry Messenger encrypted Blackberry-to-Blackberry instant messaging. UAE and Saudi claim that they are worried about intercepting terrorist communications but all of these measures are wrong-headed solutions that punish legitimate users. They don’t stop terrorists from moving on to the next technology but they do disrupt business which is not so agile. In this case it seems that all other smart phones besides Blackberry are fine including those that use Microsoft’s ActiveSync which is fundamentally HTTP data encrypted over an SSL channel are permitted. That includes Microsoft Exchange-based and Google Apps services and iPhone OS/iOS, Android and Windows –based handsets.

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