Josh Halliday reports:
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) today won a reprieve on the threat of a blackout on its 500,000 smartphone users in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), just days before security agencies were due to enforce a ban on email, messaging and web browsing on the devices.
After months of standoff between the Gulf and Canada, the UAE telecommunications regulator said on Friday that RIM had brought its devices into line with strict local jurisdictions on security and encryption. Although the details of the compromise are unknown, RIM is thought to have granted some access to communications passed between devices to the UAE government, though there is no confirmation of this from either side.
Read more in the Guardian. RIM’s not commenting so it’s unknown what, if any, concessions they may have made. Of course, if anything has changed, users should be notified, right? Just like we were notified that carriers were engaging in warrantless surveillance of us, I presume.
At least one person thinks that the government backed down:
A university professor in UAE, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Guardian: “The general opinion amongst the business expat community, westerners at least, has been for some time now that [the ban] wasn’t going to happen. Call it a failure of imagination on their part, but no one could conceive of how the country could do something so counterproductive to the image they are trying to present primarily to the west.
Ah, but whenever you try to balance rationality with security, rationality loses. Some of us could have told him that.