BlackBerry users in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia could find themselves with less than useful handsets, if proposed bans in the two Gulf states go ahead. Each is unhappy with the encryption RIM use with their servers, which prevents state monitoring of data services used by BlackBerry owners; it’s been alleged that the UAE telecoms regulator attempted to load spyware onto BlackBerry phones in 2009, a move which proved unsuccessful.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen BlackBerry messaging singled out because of its encrypted data. Back in 2008 the Indian government threatened to pull the plug on BlackBerry servers unless RIM opened up the encryption protocols; at the time it was suggested that militants could use the smartphones to communicate in ways unmonitored by security agencies.
The Saudi Arabia ban is set to kick off later in August, while the UAE ban won’t be enacted until October 11th. Both countries claim their motivation is down to “lack of compliance with UAE telecommunications regulations” rather than censorship. For their part, RIM has declined to comment.