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8/2/2010
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BlackBerry Messaging Ban Coming In UAE

Frustrated by their inability to spy on BlackBerry users, telecom regulators in the United Arab Emirates plan to shut down BlackBerry text messaging, e-mail and Web browsing.

The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) of The United Arab Emirates on Sunday said that it will suspend Blackberry Messenger, Blackberry e-mail and Blackberry Web-browsing services on October 11, 2010.

The TRA is shutting down BlackBerry data communication in the UAE because it considers its inability to monitor BlackBerry users' text messaging, e-mail, and Web browsing to be a security threat.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) encrypts BlackBerry communication by routing data through its servers in Canada.

In keeping with its 2007 regulatory framework, the TRA wants the ability monitor BlackBerry communications, but RIM has refused.

"With no solution available and in the public interest, in order to affect resolution of this issue, as of October 11, 2010, Blackberry Messenger, Blackberry e-mail and Blackberry Web-browsing services will be suspended until an acceptable solution can be developed and applied," said TRA director general Mohamed Al Ghanim in a statement.

RIM's defense of its users' data has also increased tensions in other countries. China, India, and Kuwait have all pressed RIM for access to user data.

Saudi Arabia plans to block BlackBerry Messenger later this month, according to the BBC.

"RIM operates in over 175 countries today and provides a security architecture that is widely accepted by security conscious customers and governments around the world," the company said in an e-mailed statement. "RIM respects both the regulatory requirements of government and the security and privacy needs of corporations and consumers. RIM does not disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government however RIM assures its customers that it is committed to continue delivering highly secure and innovative products that satisfy the needs of both customers and governments."

In BlackBerry's official support forum, users have expressed dismay about the upcoming ban.

Ironically, some of these discussions have been blocked or deleted.

Even as it continues to insist on the need to search travelers' laptops at border crossings and to monitor electronic communications, the U.S. government has warned its employees and private sector business travelers to leave electronic devices at home to prevent unauthorized data access and theft by foreign governments and criminals.

Update: Added statement from RIM.

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