UAE Voices Security Concerns Over BlackBerry Handsets

BlackBerry smartphones have been the subject of much debate over the years. Some reasons are for good, and some are for bad. Regardless, BlackBerry devices seem to wind up being discussed along with security concerns quite often, and while it took South Korea years to finally accept these always-connected handhelds, the United Arab Emirates are now causing quite a stir.

The UAE is obviously exploding, with Dubai being one of the most happening cities in the world right now. So it's no surprise that BlackBerry handhelds would end up in the nation, particularly with business travel up to the nation. But now, the UAE's telecommunication watchdog group is saying that BlackBerry smartphones "are a potential threat to the country's national security." Given just how popular these phones are, and just how many nations have them, this is obviously quite the shocking revelation.

The group is now seeking to change how the device operates, with security officials seemingly concerned over the flow of information into the nation (which filters and censors some websites and other forms of media seen as harmful to national security or local values). According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, RIM's famed phone line can operate "beyond the jurisdiction" of national laws because of the data that they carry. In other words, they don't appreciate the foreign nature of the data. Here's the quote: "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. Like many other countries, we have been working for a long time to resolve these critical issues, with the objective of finding a solution that safeguards our consumers and operates within the boundaries of UAE law."

What's curious is that the agency isn't making public what changes are being sought. RIM obviously has yet to comment, but we have an idea that something will give so that BlackBerry devices can continue to be sold and used in the UAE. It's obviously a booming market for RIM, but if they change their whole platform for one country, what kind of precedent will that set?