The Mideast BlackBerry Crackdown
BY Nancy Scola | Monday, August 2 2010
The concept of one world, one Internet takes another hit with the news that the United Arab Emirates and Saudia Arabia will block BlackBerry services because they can't monitor the traffic:
''The authorities have used a variety of arguments, like it can be used by terrorists'' to justify the crackdown, said Christopher Davidson, a professor at the University of Durham in Britain, who has written extensively about the region. ''Yes that's true, but it can also be used by civil society campaigners and activists.''
The UAE's decision will prevent hundreds of thousands of BlackBerry users from accessing e-mail and the Web on their handsets starting in October. It's unclear whether the ban will extend to foreign visitors with roaming services, including the roughly 100,000 passengers who pass through the region's busiest airport in Dubai each day.
Why only BlackBerry? RIM services, it seems, route automatically through Canada, rather than local servers that authorities in UAE and Saudia Arabia would have more leverage over.