Some companies may consider smartphones, especially ones with cameras, to be a security threat, but this news takes that to a whole new level. The United Arab Emirates has announced that BlackBerrys are a national security risk and, as a result, BlackBerry Messenger, Email, and Web services will be banned from the country starting on October 11. UAE government officials explained why the devices are a threat:
"[BlackBerrys] operate beyond the jurisdiction of national laws and are open to misuse. [...] As a result of how Blackberry data is managed and stored, in their current form, certain Blackberry applications allow people to misuse the service, causing serious social, judicial and national security repercussions.”
All of the carriers of the UAE are set to comply with the new ban. There was no timetable for a solution to be reached that would allow BlackBerrys in the country once again. Along with the UAE, there have also been reports that Saudi Arabia has begun blocking BlackBerry Messenger services, effective immediately.
This news is awfully surprising, especially considering the fact that the UAE's largest city, Dubai, is well-known as a business hub. Since so much business goes on in the country, I'm sure there will be some users that will be fighting to keep their BlackBerry use legal in the country. There's been no response from BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion on the situation, but it would be interesting to know what they would have to say on the situation.