UAE says Blackberry operating outside law, banning use

A visitor to a trade fair holds a Blackberry mobile phone.

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: A couple of countries in the Middle East will ban wireless BlackBerry mobile phone use. Starting in October, the United Arab Emirates will stop people from sending e-mails, surfing the internet or sending text messages from their handsets because of security concerns. And the move has prompted Saudi Arabia to take similar measures. The BBC's Katy Watson reports.


Katy Watson: The government of the United Arab Emirates says Blackberry is operating outside the law. Because the wireless data sent from a Blackberry, even in the UAE, is encrypted and sent to servers in other countries including Canada. And that means the UAE can't monitor the information. Fevzi Turkalp is the editor of gadgetdetective.com. He says Blackberry is known for its security.

Fevzi Turkalp: The messages are sent back into the inbox of Blackberry users in UAE and Saudi Arabia are encrypted. The opportunity to snoop on them is vastly reduced.

The Blackberry is one of the most popular smartphone in the two countries with nearly 1 million users. An official from Saudi telecom has admitted the decision is intended to put pressure on Blackberry's owners to release the data when needed, but the Canadian company has so far refused to comply. And critics suggest the UAE government doesn't just want to view the data, but wants to censor the information.

In Dubai, I'm the BBC's Katy Watson for Marketplace.

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