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22 - 26 March

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Topics include: Direct to consumer / E-commerce / Data & privacy / Martech

Black day for BlackBerry in the Middle East

Key features on BlackBerry smartphones are to be blocked in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia following governmental concern over the national security threat posed by the devices.

It means that from October thousands of users could find their access to email and the internet disrupted, affecting 145,000 users in the UAE alone.

Governments are unhappy that they are unable to monitor messages on BlackBerries as they can other smartphones as the devices encrypt such data and route it overseas, primarily Canada where Research in Motion, the manufacturer, is based.

This has meant the devices have become popular with consumers and business for the security afforded but not so with governments, who allege that the measure is needed to prevent terrorists and criminals from exploiting this lack of local eavesdropping.

Analysts suspect it is more likely to be an attempt to control the flow of information in the conservative societies. Media content and websites deemed to carry un-Islamic content or stoke political unrest are regularly blocked.

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