A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Latest Dispatches from the Blackberry Wars

In my native Ozarks one sometimes heard of a "blackberry winter," sort of the opposite of an Indian Summer, when things warmed up enough in late winter for the blackberries to bloom early. A different sort of Blackberry winter seemed imminent with yesterday's UAE and Saudi moves against Research in Motion, but now there are reports that RIM has agreed to let India monitor its services, and may have set up a server in China, which may augur well for finding a modus vivendi with the Gulf states. Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, whose ban was to be in effect even sooner, there is talk that ISPs may ignore it for the time being, expecting it to be lifted, and things there seem generally uncertain.

I deplore censorship, but I recognize that sovereign nations have certain rights to monitor potentially dangerous communications; the UAE Ambassador to the US has protested State Department criticism of the ban, noting the US already asserts monitoring rights. As I noted in an earlier posting, I have an Android phone, which means whatever mere nation-states may seek to learn, I'm watched by Google and therefore have no expectations of privacy. But RIM seems to really annoy certain countries for its encryption methods.

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