As many of you have read, the UAE telephone regulator (“TRA”) issued via our great telecom operator, Etisalat, a statement that Blackberry services would cease operations in October. The reason for the stoppage was due to national security concerns.
I can understand the position that the UAE TRA are in especially after the death of that man by the Mossad people in the hotel in Dubai earlier this year. However, my question is, why did they not consider this issue all those years ago when they first brought the Blackberry to these shores.
A concern that has been raised by many bloggers and people generally is that the stoppage of the Blackberry is a way to control the residents of the UAE. There have been ripples of worry by the higher authorities that local Emiratis are getting Blackberries solely to use the BB Messenger service to correspond with other Emiratis without any trace by the authorities. Whilst this is most probably true, BB’s are used by thousands in this country for work purposes (yes BBM is great as we don’t have to pay the telecom’s are hard earned cash for SMS’s – *evil laugh*).
The fact the RIM has had control of our data for all these years is a great concern for me especially as I have dealt with Data Protection for many years. The information that this one company holds of millions of people worldwide is sufficient a reason for the TRA to raise concerns. However, there has to be a better way to mange this issue than stop the service completely.
I am a user of the BB for work. I hate the fact that my work believe that as I have a BB with me, that I will be contactable 24 hours a day. However, its usefulness for my work, especially when I have to travel abroad, far outweighs the cons. To stop the use of the BB will make the country step back to the prehistoric ages (ok 5 years ago) and instead of being a progressive modern nation in the Middle East, we will be ridiculed for our backwardness.
Etisalat has offered free handsets to its BB customers to choose from to replace the BB. I have seen the choice and they are not great. The IPhone is great for personal use but it is rubbish for typing. I could never write a sensible well worded email on my iphone. The Nokia phones on offer do not bring joy to my soul. I have had Nokia phones for years and I know that they build these machines to have a lifespan of nine months only forcing you to get a new phone when your twelve month contract was up. Yes, that’s how they make money but its not acceptable behaviour. I am not one of those people who like buying the brand new hyped up handset as soon as it comes out. It might have been fun a few years back in England when I had to change the phone anyway (thanks Nokia) but now its tiresome and the shops in Dubai love charging extortionate prices for the handsets and providing rubbish after care service (Axiom I am looking at you). As much as people whinge about the BB it is a well made handset and it has gained it market position due to its easy usability.
I understand that in the background currently RIM and TRA are discussing how to sort this matter out and the nation of BB users are hoping that RIM will allow a server to be installed in the UAE to eliminate this problem. If this happens we can thankfully continue to use our BB. However, our next concern will be whether Big Brother is watching our BB.