Blackberry – Threat to National Security?

For years now, I have been saying that the information war will become more and more evident in the years to come. Information control will be the name of the game for most companies, even for countries. The recent announcment of United Arab Emirates banning Blackberry devices in the country is a clear indication of my earlier statement.

UAE officials stated that Blackberry operates beyond the jurisdiction of national legislation, since it is the only device operating in the UAE that immediately exports its data off-shore and is managed by a foreign, commercial organization. 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.

I have seen the video reports on cable TV and people from UAE are actually worried about the banning of Blackberry devices in their country – more of what’s life after Blackberry rather the banning itself. One person being interviewed said “I have been using my Blackberry eversince, both for business and personal use. Prohibiting the service will be a big blow and adjustment for most of us here”.

The UAE Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRA) has said that despite the decision to suspend Blackberry services from October, it remains open to discussions on a solution instead of a ban, Emirates News Agency (WAM) has reported. However, the decision “to suspend certain Blackberry services from October 11 is final,” TRA director general Mohammed Al Ghanem said in a statement.

All the UAE government wanted is to have access or perhaps control over the servers where the messages are stored. So the solution is for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) to provide Saudi Arabia with a local server, and allow the government to have access on the servers – for monitoring maybe?

If we are going to look at this development, one would ask “Are Blackberry devices really a threat to national security?”. Not the device but the one who controls the information can be a threat to national security. As information passes through from one Blackberry user to another, all conversation are recorded or stored somewhere. And these information can actually be used to determine what is happening between the two parties. Can you imagine the conversation between the President of one country to his/her cabinets being recorded in a server located somewhere? Is that a threat? You tell me.

The same thing can be said here. The Philippines is the SMS capital center of the world as they say. Have you ever wondered where those messages are stored? Messages about meetings, business deals, and even government matters are sent daily – they must be stored somewhere right? Local telecom providers are saying that messages are actually deleted after sometime due to storage considerations, but are they really deleted? I am just asking.

I believed its the prerogative and right of one country to have access to information that they believed can be a threat to their national security. No one can say that UAE is over-reacting to such a device. Its a valid concern and I think someday it will be our concern as well. The one who has the information and be able to transform it to knowledge has the power to rule the world.

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