Tag: uae

UAE: BBM Viral Link Sends BlackBerrys to Emergency Call

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Police in Abu Dhabi are investigating who is behind a BBM message that went viral and included a link which, upon clicking, would dial 999. The message circulated Monday evening and resulted in 13,338 calls in 5 hours. The damage done is probably fairly minimal, but it makes you wonder about the group behind the message, and their intent on disrupting emergency services with the use of BBM. A really successful viral campaign could disrupt emergency services at a crucial time when such services are needed. Hopefully it’s just a meaningless prank.

Jim Balsille Demos the PlayBook and Announces Torch and App World 2.0

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RIM CEO Jim Ballsille keynote at Gitex 2010

Jim Balsillie was at GITEX (Gulf IT Exhibition) in the UAE, showing off the PlayBook and announcing App World 2.0 and the Torch in the Middle East. The PlayBook is the hottest thing we’ve ever seen from RIM and regardless of what the analysts say, it’s going to kill it in the tablet market. Not only that, but the beginning of the QNX revolution has started in RIM and it’s going to give a new life to BlackBerrys. Overall, things are looking pretty good but considering the hassle that the UAE government gave RIM over access to information, they were fortunate to see a live demo and get so much love from RIM.

RIM Outlines 4 Main Principles of Lawful Access to BlackBerry Data

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RIM has made an official announcement to customers saying it is cooperating with the Indian government as well as other governments during the recent string of complaints regarding access to information. RIM has said that it is cooperating with these governments “in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements, while also preserving the lawful needs of citizens and corporations.”

Following this statement, RIM has outlined four main principles that governments must follow if they are to work with RIM on access to private data:
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RIM Says It’s Unable to Accommodate Government Requests for Data Access

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The ban on BlackBerry in the UAE has been a hot topic lately and RIM has a few statements on the topic that are interesting. RIM hasn’t directly discussed the ban in the UAE due to the confidential nature of talks with governments, but reiterated some key points about the platform that indirectly address the issue.

RIM has come out saying the BlackBerry network was set up so that “no one, including RIM, could access” customer data, which is encrypted from the time it leaves the device. It added RIM would “simply be unable to accommodate any request” for a key to decrypt the data, since the company doesn’t have the key.

The BlackBerry network is designed “to exclude the capability for RIM or any third party to read encrypted information under any circumstances,” RIM’s statement said.

The location of BlackBerry’s servers doesn’t matter, the company said, because the data on them can’t be deciphered without a decryption key.

“RIM assures customers that it will not compromise the integrity and security of the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution,” the statement said.

So it looks like RIM will not budge on compromising their security and any government looking to get access is simply out of luck.

Why RIM Should Cut Its Losses in the United Arab Emirates Market

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The UAE has officially stated that as of October 11th, they will be cutting off BlackBerry services. The Telecom regulators have said that the fact that data is handled and stored offshore, outside of government control, makes BlackBerrys an unacceptable security risk.

For those who don’t know, the BlackBerry platform architecture relies on dedicated data centers (NOCs) which handle all BlackBerry data traffic over a secure, encrypted connection between the NOC and the handset. Some governments are uncomfortable with the solution because they have little or no visibility into BlackBerry data traffic, and are concerned that BlackBerry handsets may be used for criminal purposes.
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BlackBerry Services Disconnected in UAE as of October

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We recently reported that the UAE has been making claims that BlackBerry poses a security risk, as the data sent from a BlackBerry leaves the country to be processed by RIM’s NOC. As of October, the UAE will be disconnecting BlackBerry services until a “solution” can be found. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority director Mohamed al-Ghanim says “With no solution available and in the public interest … Blackberry Messenger, Blackberry E-mail and Blackberry Web-browsing services will be suspended until an acceptable solution can be developed and applied”.

This trend may continue throughout several more Arab countries that are known to keep a close eye on their citizens. Saudie Arabia is said to be next in line to cancel services.