During this past week, the UAE, matching India's concerns, boldly and courageously decided to block all Blackberry services within it's country, by October 11th, citing security concerns. Apparently, the UAE isn't too happy that it's security services are unable to access the BB's e-traffic, which prevents them from having any foreknowledge of potential criminal and/or terrorist activities before, during or after they happen. Saudi Arabia, followed suite and pre-empted the UAE by banning the BB's internet services one month before the UAE's announced ban date.
The Saudi/Emirati decision made so many waves that it actually affected RIM's shares performances for a brief time, and the UAE/Saudi position never changed; Turning off BBM's internet services is a done deal; the security of the State is far more important than the security of RIM's royalty fees.
Egypt's considering a ban as well, but only after a detailed study on the security implications of the BB's services, which makes complete sense to me, as any responsible government should do when introducing a smart device. The US, UK, EU and Australia, all cited security concerns over the implications of inaccessible user data from BB users. (Rightly so, since it's rumored that BB devices were used in the Dubai assassination attempt by Mossad agents recently.)
When Israel temporarily banned the importation of the iPad back in May this year, they explained it away as a measure to ensure that the device's radio spectrum doesn't interfere with any of their Military hardware. No one called Israel a technophobe, nor a paranoid state nor a dictatorship against human rights or anything of the sort. Once that laughable justification was made public, no one made a fuss about it at all. It's only when Arab countries ask for what's right and legal in accordance with generally accepted security and legislative guidelines do naysayers start to bicker, moan and bray! (laughable because the iPad uses the same WIFI/Bluetooth/GSM radios as any modern Laptop or netbook on the market today, but hey, it's Israel, they CAN'T be wrong!)
While I tend to agree that some user information should be accessible by the state when required, I mst stress that this access should be subject to the actual user's pre-approval, first of all, and then by a Court Order mandating a specific search within a specific type of data, and not a holistic "probable cause" type of search, which can be interpreted to mean any number of things. This would allow Law Enforcement officials legal access to user data, while at the same time still retain a lot of the user's privacy rights. An amicable trade-off between security and privacy, in my opinion, and a price well-worth paying for, especially if you have nothing to fear!
Which brings us to Kuwait, which, on that note, realizing the threat of the BB's services to it's sensitive geopolitical position in the region, has asked RIM to block 3'000 porn sites instead! I'll bet some pencil-neck MOI official will come out and defend this myopic decision as the Government's belief in Freedom of Speech very soon, just wait!
(Or maybe MP's Hayef and Tabtebai both have Blackberries??)