Emirates police says US, Israel, use BlackBerry to spy

Dahi Tamim

Dahi Tamim

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The alleged use of encrypted BlackBerry communications by adversary intelligence services operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is prompting local authorities to consider a nationwide ban on the popular phone. This was revealed late last week by Dubai Police chief, Lt. General Dahi Khalfan bin Tamim, who repeated a warning by UAE authorities that BlackBerry services in the country will be curtailed on October 11, unless the government is given access to BlackBerry’s encryption code by the manufacturer. Several other countries in the Middle East and beyond have made similar moves, including Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, India and Indonesia, all of which have cited security reasons for the ban. But Lt. General Tamim’s comments provide the first known connection between a threat to ban BlackBerry and its alleged use by rival intelligence agencies. Speaking to journalists, the Dubai Police chief implied that encrypted BlackBerry telephones are used by the intelligence agencies of “America, Israel, Britain and other countries” that operate in the UAE. He also shared the view that “[t]he United States is the primary beneficiary of having no controls over the BlackBerry, as it has an interest to spy on the UAE”. According to local media, UAE government officials are currently engaged in confidential negotiations with Research in Motion Ltd., BlackBerry’s Canada-based manufacturer. There are over 500,000 permanent BlackBerry users in the UAE, a number which does not include the millions of foreign BlackBerry subscribers that visit the country each year.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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