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Saudi Arabia announces it will block BlackBerry service Friday

post #1 of 67
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Saudi Arabia, citing security concerns, revealed Tuesday its intention to block some of Research in Motion's BlackBerry services beginning Friday.

The news comes as the latest threat in a heated debate between RIM and several governments. As reported by Reuters, India and Kuwait have both objected to being unable to monitor Blackberry services. Last week, the United Arab Emirates threatened to block BlackBerry Messenger, email, and browsing services on Oct. 11 if not allowed access to encrypted messages.

Unlike Apple, RIM operates its own encrypted servers for handling data from its BlackBerry devices. Countering rumors that RIM had agreed to allow select governments to monitor BlackBerry data, the Canada-based company released a statement Tuesday reassuring customers that it remains unable to access user data.

"The BlackBerry security architecture for enterprise customers is based on a symmetric key system whereby the customer creates their own key and only the customer ever possesses a copy of their encryption key. RIM does not possess a "master key", nor does any "back door" exist in the system that would allow RIM or any third party to gain unauthorized access to the key or corporate data."

Saudi Arabia's threat arrived at a poor time for RIM. The announcement came just hours after a high-profile unveiling event for the new Blackberry Torch, a device touted by many as RIM's response to Apple's growing dominance of the smartphone market. The new touchscreen phone supports multi-touch gestures and sports a 480x360 pixel display, a 5 megapixel, and a slide-out keyboard.

During the launch event, a RIM executive predicted that few governments would make good on their threats. "I believe they'll have trouble pulling the trigger to shut down BlackBerry," Chief Technology Officer David Yach told Reuters. "Most governments in the world rely on BlackBerry."

Analysts covering Tuesday's drama think RIM has more at stake with the new Torch smartphone than in the Middle East. According to Reuters, Charter Equity Research analyst Ed Snyder believes that "the success or failure of the new smartphone is far more important for RIM's immediate fortunes than the Middle East security issues."

New data released by Nielsen shows that half of BlackBerry users want to switch to other smartphone operating systems for their next purchase. 29% of BlackBerry owners polled want to switch to the iPhone OS, while just 2% of iPhone owners want BlackBerry OS for their next purchase.

NASDAQ shares of RIM were down 2.5% at the close of market, although analysts blame disappointment with the BlackBerry Torch as the key factor, rather than fears of governmental opposition in the Middle East.
post #2 of 67
Any bets on how soon a commentator is going to blame this on Apple and its obnoxious lobbying efforts in Saudi Arabia, since they cant compete in a free market?
post #3 of 67
So locals in Saudi are now planning attacks against Saudi so they are gonna block Blackberry type devices? Perhaps they shoulda started back in 2001.
post #4 of 67
I doubt that they are looking at user data, but the fact that they probably could do it if they really wanted to doesn't sit well with governments. The fact that they control both the transport and security architecture makes this possible. Normally those two things are under separate authorities on the net. I think the more serious concern would be hacking or infiltration of RIM services.
post #5 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

I doubt that they are looking at user data, but the fact that they probably could do it if they really wanted to doesn't sit well with governments.

I don't believe the governments involved are worried about RiM spying on their citizen's data. Rather the opposite - these governments want to spy on their own citizens and RiM is preventing them.
post #6 of 67
They should just block the Internet
post #7 of 67
Sssssssssssssssssssooooooooooooooooooo what!
post #8 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

I don't believe the governments involved are worried about RiM spying on their citizen's data. Rather the opposite - these governments want to spy on their own citizens and RiM is preventing them.

Of course! Any other rationale is just smoke and mirrors.
I wonder how these regimes feel about the encryption on Skype conversations and IMs? It is quite strong and proprietary.
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post #9 of 67
More than a few governments in the Middle East are quite insecure about radical and terrorist activity brewing right under their noses. They see a profound destabilizing threat in the existence of an impenetrable communications system within their borders that is used by al-Qa'ida and other groups. In so many parts of the world, balancing national security with the right of privacy is increasingly difficult.

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I admit to being a Fanatical Moderate. I Disdain the Inane. Vyizderzominymororzizazizdenderizorziz?

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post #10 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

So locals in Saudi are now planning attacks against Saudi so they are gonna block Blackberry type devices? Perhaps they shoulda started back in 2001.

Stick to the topic pal.

there are countries discussing/implementing filters for all internet communication to and from. how this will impact users of smart phone is more of a concern than just addressing RIM.
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post #11 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

Any bets on how soon a commentator is going to blame this on Apple and its obnoxious lobbying efforts in Saudi Arabia, since they cant compete in a free market?


LOL
post #12 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kibitzer View Post

More than a few governments in the Middle East are quite insecure about radical and terrorist activity brewing right under their noses.

Knowing Saudi Arabia, what they're really concerned about is women getting more rights, such as to communicate with one another and with unmarried men. Saudi Arabia has shown little to no interest in curbing Al Qaida, but they sure do crack down on women getting the slightest bit of equality.
post #13 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kibitzer View Post

More than a few governments in the Middle East are quite insecure about radical and terrorist activity brewing right under their noses. They see a profound destabilizing threat in the existence of an impenetrable communications system within their borders that is used by al-Qa'ida and other groups. In so many parts of the world, balancing national security with the right of privacy is increasingly difficult.

It isn't just radicals and terrorists that scare governments. Moderates, campaigners for women's rights, human rights supporters, campaigners for freedom of speech, etc are also not exactly popular people with certain governments in the Middle East.

To quote Thomas Jefferson: "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."
post #14 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by nitro View Post

Stick to the topic pal.

there are countries discussing/implementing filters for all internet communication to and from. how this will impact users of smart phone is more of a concern than just addressing RIM.

A. Not your pal.

B. The article focuses on Saudi and their security concerns.

C. The article states that this block doesn't apply to smart phones like the iPhone which does not inherently use encryption for comms.

D. I'm dubious of anyone saying they want to presume guilt so they can better protect.
post #15 of 67
So these countries can't spy on blackberry's user data...

In my book that's a very positive mark for Blackberry.

I don't think it will hinder them that much. Companies looking for security for their handsets will think better of blackberry now, that a country had to resort to blocking the service since RIM wouldn't give them access.

So again, what does this have to do with Apple, and how is this a bad thing? (unless you want to make an argument AGAINST user privacy)
post #16 of 67
As long as this somehow benefits Apple, it's OK with me.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #17 of 67
Apple's growing dominance of the smartphone market

HAHAHA!

3rd in sales in the most recent quarter is "growing dominance"?

Yeah, and the Cubs are going to win the World Series this year.
post #18 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by fredsnodgrass View Post

Apple's growing dominance of the smartphone market

HAHAHA!

3rd in sales in the most recent quarter is "growing dominance"?

Yeah, and the Cubs are going to win the World Series this year.

The first mobile phone I owned in the early 90s was a motorola. Apple has been in the game 3'ish years.

You used your first post for this?
post #19 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

Knowing Saudi Arabia, what they're really concerned about is women getting more rights, such as to communicate with one another and with unmarried men. Saudi Arabia has shown little to no interest in curbing Al Qaida, but they sure do crack down on women getting the slightest bit of equality.

It has nothing to do with women rights or human rights. Those governments are worried about their citizens speaking up and expressing their opinion. This will lead to coordination in politics and ideology among their people ending in instability and the possibility of change in power. Monarchy is fragile and they know it. Without absolute control over their people they will lose everything. It is all about power.
post #20 of 67
Any dictator with decent technical advisors would know that blocking RIM's communications won't do a thing to stop people from communicating using alternate secure methods over the Internet, even with Blackberrys. Anybody who suggested that blocking RIM was going to be at all helpful while leaving the rest of the Internet intact, ought to have their head cut off.
post #21 of 67
I bet suicide bombers are dying to get their hands on the BlackBerry Torch.
post #22 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

It has nothing to do with women rights or human rights. Those governments are worried about their citizens speaking up and expressing their opinion. This will lead to coordination in politics and ideology among their people ending in instability and the possibility of change in power. Monarchy is fragile and they know it. Without absolute control over their people they will lose everything. It is all about power.

Good post.
post #23 of 67
Kudos to RIM if they are saying the truth about the "only the customer has access" thing. I hope they continue to flourish in the business market, although I can't see myself using any of their phones.
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post #24 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

I don't believe the governments involved are worried about RiM spying on their citizen's data. Rather the opposite - these governments want to spy on their own citizens and RiM is preventing them.

I suspect your are correct plus they probably fear RIM can access data (I doubt they can) and RIM being a Canadian therefore US friendly place. Perhaps it's better for us though in the end if the CIA can track Saudi phone calls given their anti American and UK stance. In fact, IMO we shouldn't sell them anything without self destruct chips in them we control, be it a phone or a plane let alone technology that facilitates clandestine operations !
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post #25 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

It has nothing to do with women rights or human rights. Those governments are worried about their citizens speaking up and expressing their opinion. This will lead to coordination in politics and ideology among their people ending in instability and the possibility of change in power. Monarchy is fragile and they know it. Without absolute control over their people they will lose everything. It is all about power.

I currently live and work in Saudi Arabia and have also worked in the UAE.

In Saudi Arabia, a big part of the concern does have to do with women and yopung people (men and women) communicating with each other without permission. there are concerns about "illicit relationships" and planning to meet without approval. Terrorism is a relatively minor concern of the government but control of women and of young people's relationships is a key job of the religious police. They will try but, in the long run, they too will lose the war.

It is different in the UAE. There are few native Emiratis and they are concerned that all of the guest workers will conspire to take over their country. Too late for that becasue they already have. If all of the foreigners left today, the place would cease to function as a society and as a country. The government has already lost and does not know it yet.
post #26 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

Knowing Saudi Arabia, what they're really concerned about is women getting more rights, such as to communicate with one another and with unmarried men. Saudi Arabia has shown little to no interest in curbing Al Qaida, but they sure do crack down on women getting the slightest bit of equality.

Please tell us more about what you know regarding Saudi Arabia that is not spoon fed to you by Fox Noise.
post #27 of 67
Another step backwards for a backwards country. What else is new.
post #28 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

It has nothing to do with women rights or human rights. Those governments are worried about their citizens speaking up and expressing their opinion. This will lead to coordination in politics and ideology among their people ending in instability and the possibility of change in power. Monarchy is fragile and they know it. Without absolute control over their people they will lose everything. It is all about power.

Pretty much right on target. All these issues combined are presenting a problem for all of the US and British created govts in the Mid East. They are terrified of a united front of women, and the younger generations. When the mean age of the Mid East is somewhere around 29 years old and there is rampant unemployment and they see the royals burning through money like its going out of style, the last thing you need is a well coordinated uprising. For the most part the monarchies have lost the battle.
post #29 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trajectory View Post

Another step backwards for a backwards country. What else is new.

Define backwards. Would you consider it backwards because they do not think like Westerners? When was a the last time you lived there let alone visited there? Maybe you are getting your crusade ready huh?
post #30 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

You used your first post for this?

LOL it's not like losing your virginity or anything...
post #31 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

Knowing Saudi Arabia, what they're really concerned about is women getting more rights, such as to communicate with one another and with unmarried men. Saudi Arabia has shown little to no interest in curbing Al Qaida, but they sure do crack down on women getting the slightest bit of equality.

It was the invention of another technology that first allowed women in the west to communicate unchaperoned, we seem to have coped with the postage stamp fairly well though.
post #32 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by nacnud View Post

It was the invention of another technology that first allowed women in the west to communicate unchaperoned, we seem to have coped with the postage stamp fairly well though.

It's a whole 'nother ballgame when it comes to Muslim countries. Here in Malaysia where I am right now it's more moderate, but there is a separate law and court system that illegalizes unmarried Malay (and hence by default Muslim) men and women staying together, let alone having a child out of wedlock, etc.

As another poster observed, all this Internetz, iPhones, Blackberries and Facebook is throwing a wrench in the religiously conservative camps.

Humans are such... The more you try and control them, the more they will rebel. But if you can trick then into thinking they are making "choices", the you have won...

In any case I'm sure the CIA is able to crack and intercept Blackberry transmissions, maybe Saudi is pissed the CIA didn't share the tech with them.
post #33 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


In any case I'm sure the CIA is able to crack and intercept Blackberry transmissions, maybe Saudi is pissed the CIA didn't share the tech with them.

Actually it's the job of the NSA to do this.
post #34 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by fisherman View Post

I currently live and work in Saudi Arabia and have also worked in the UAE.

In Saudi Arabia, a big part of the concern does have to do with women and yopung people (men and women) communicating with each other without permission. there are concerns about "illicit relationships" and planning to meet without approval. Terrorism is a relatively minor concern of the government but control of women and of young people's relationships is a key job of the religious police. They will try but, in the long run, they too will lose the war.

It is different in the UAE. There are few native Emiratis and they are concerned that all of the guest workers will conspire to take over their country. Too late for that becasue they already have. If all of the foreigners left today, the place would cease to function as a society and as a country. The government has already lost and does not know it yet.

I respect your first-hand opinions on Saudi Arabia but history has shown us that governments (especially authoritarian ones) are only concerned with holding and increasing power. It is naive to think that they are concerned about "illicit relationships" and if they are, it most likely relates to organizing, mobilizing, and destabilizing the powers that be. They may act in a way that suggests their concern is about "illicit relationships" but in fact, they are appeasing their local cultural mentality and using it as a smokescreen to keep tabs on their population. To think that any government is not concerned with terrorists is terribly naive. They may even sanction terrorism when it suits them (see Pakistan) but you can bet they are VERY concerned with keeping tabs on them at the same time.

What you say about he the UAE seems very plausible.

Now about "backwards" countries. I am as liberal as they get and yes, is terribly, terribly backwards by any definition a liberal can give. This is not some sort of American superiority argument because America, is too pretty backward when compared to say, Northern Europe.
post #35 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

Knowing Saudi Arabia, what they're really concerned about is women getting more rights, such as to communicate with one another and with unmarried men. Saudi Arabia has shown little to no interest in curbing Al Qaida, but they sure do crack down on women getting the slightest bit of equality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

It has nothing to do with women rights or human rights. Those governments are worried about their citizens speaking up and expressing their opinion. This will lead to coordination in politics and ideology among their people ending in instability and the possibility of change in power. Monarchy is fragile and they know it. Without absolute control over their people they will lose everything. It is all about power.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fisherman View Post

I currently live and work in Saudi Arabia and have also worked in the UAE.

In Saudi Arabia, a big part of the concern does have to do with women and yopung people (men and women) communicating with each other without permission. there are concerns about "illicit relationships" and planning to meet without approval. Terrorism is a relatively minor concern of the government but control of women and of young people's relationships is a key job of the religious police. They will try but, in the long run, they too will lose the war.

It is different in the UAE. There are few native Emiratis and they are concerned that all of the guest workers will conspire to take over their country. Too late for that becasue they already have. If all of the foreigners left today, the place would cease to function as a society and as a country. The government has already lost and does not know it yet.

It's all of these. I have also worked extensively in Saudi and other Middle Eastern countries and the level of paranoia in these countries is astounding. They have a very tightly controlled religious society (most of them, with Qatar being a major exception) and their entire way of life is contingent on maintaining religious and political control of an increasingly unstable situation.

Anything that is a threat to the control of the government and religion must be squashed. A married woman having a cup of tea with an unmarried man is so subversive that they must stop it. It's hard to believe that something so simple is a threat to them, but it is. Heck, just this year, they sentenced a woman in Iran to being stoned to death for adultery (later reduced to a 'lesser', but still harsh penalty). She had previously been flogged:
"Under Sharia law in Iran, a woman's death by stoning involves being buried up to the neck and having stones hurled at her head. The law even specifies the size of the stones: not so big that the victim dies quickly, but not so small that death takes an inordinately long time."

It is probably no coincidence that this woman was a human rights activist (or what passes for one over there). She was probably advocating that it should be OK for a woman to show her ankles when bathing or something equally subversive.

Until you've lived or worked there, you have no idea of the nature of these religious-fascist governments in the Middle East. To me, that is a major reason that we should be pushing as hard as we can for energy independence in the US and other developed countries. We're currently at the mercy of people who are little more than barbarians in human rights and who have shown no hesitation in trying to enforce their beliefs on the rest of the world.
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post #36 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2 cents View Post

I respect your first-hand opinions on Saudi Arabia but history has shown us that governments (especially authoritarian ones) are only concerned with holding and increasing power. It is naive to think that they are concerned about "illicit relationships" and if they are, it most likely relates to organizing, mobilizing, and destabilizing the powers that be. They may act in a way that suggests their concern is about "illicit relationships" but in fact, they are appeasing their local cultural mentality and using it as a smokescreen to keep tabs on their population. To think that any government is not concerned with terrorists is terribly naive. They may even sanction terrorism when it suits them (see Pakistan) but you can bet they are VERY concerned with keeping tabs on them at the same time.

I think you're misunderstanding the governments there. They keep control specifically because of their control of religious mores. It ultimately becomes a matter of efficiency.

If you want to be a secular dictatorial government, you have to watch everyone. That's impossible. With these religious-fascist states, they create a religion which does their job for them. You convince the public that the leaders are acting in some god-given role and their word is law. You convince them that doing what the leaders want them to do is not just required by law, but required by god. Then, you let the entire population police the country for you - at no charge.

The ban on illicit relationships is as much a part of their control as a ban on large secret meetings was under Stalin.
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post #37 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It's all of these. I have also worked extensively in Saudi and other Middle Eastern countries and the level of paranoia in these countries is astounding. They have a very tightly controlled religious society (most of them, with Qatar being a major exception) and their entire way of life is contingent on maintaining religious and political control of an increasingly unstable situation.

Anything that is a threat to the control of the government and religion must be squashed. A married woman having a cup of tea with an unmarried man is so subversive that they must stop it. It's hard to believe that something so simple is a threat to them, but it is. Heck, just this year, they sentenced a woman in Iran to being stoned to death for adultery (later reduced to a 'lesser', but still harsh penalty). She had previously been flogged:
"Under Sharia law in Iran, a woman's death by stoning involves being buried up to the neck and having stones hurled at her head. The law even specifies the size of the stones: not so big that the victim dies quickly, but not so small that death takes an inordinately long time."

It is probably no coincidence that this woman was a human rights activist (or what passes for one over there). She was probably advocating that it should be OK for a woman to show her ankles when bathing or something equally subversive.

Until you've lived or worked there, you have no idea of the nature of these religious-fascist governments in the Middle East. To me, that is a major reason that we should be pushing as hard as we can for energy independence in the US and other developed countries. We're currently at the mercy of people who are little more than barbarians in human rights and who have shown no hesitation in trying to enforce their beliefs on the rest of the world.

You were doing so well. Right up to the point about them forcing their beliefs on the rest of the world. Well, I have lived and worked in the ME extensively as well and for the most part they could not care less what religion you practice as long as it was not forced on them. Remember how US soldiers had Bible verses inscribed on their rifle barrels, or handing out Bibles, or Christians masquerading as Muslims to try and underhandedly convert them? I guess these attempts at forcing a set of beliefs don't matter as long as Christianity is involved. I will agree and say that there are certain elements that want to enforce their beliefs on EVERYONE be it Jew, Christian, Muslim, etc... You paint with too broad a brush.
post #38 of 67
From a 1997 article:

This week's episode of "As the Apple Peels" has a Saudi Prince buying up $115 million dollars worth of Apple stock.

---Follow the money,people, follow the money.
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post #39 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquia33 View Post

From a 1997 article:

This week's episode of "As the Apple Peels" has a Saudi Prince buying up $115 million dollars worth of Apple stock.

---Follow the money,people, follow the money.

From a 2010 question:

Where is the link to back up your assertion?
post #40 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquia33 View Post

From a 1997 article:

This week's episode of "As the Apple Peels" has a Saudi Prince buying up $115 million dollars worth of Apple stock.

---Follow the money,people, follow the money.

PS: In '97 APPL was at around $3.50 and there has been 2 splits since this $115M investment.
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