Posts tagged “UAE”

UAE internet policies put under the microscope

“Dubai: Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) recently classified the UAE as being “under surveillance” in its censorship of the internet, a step ahead of being declared an “Internet enemy” in a list that includes China, Egypt, Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Helmi Noman, a researcher with the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), indicated that social filtering in the UAE can be categorised as “pervasive”, while political filtering was found to be “substantial”, following a marked rise in the blocking of sites political in nature since 2007.”

From Gulf News

Most UAE mobile phone users access internet with BlackBerry

“Dubai: The majority of mobile phone users in the United Arab Emirates use BlackBerry devices to access the internet, suggests a new survey by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

‘BlackBerries are the most commonly used devices to access the internet approximately 37 per cent of the time,’ the TRA said in its ICT in the UAE report released in Abu Dhabi this week.”

From Gulf News

BlackBerry escapes blackout in UAE

“BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) today won a reprieve on the threat of a blackout on its 500,000 smartphone users in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), just days before security agencies were due to enforce a ban on email, messaging and web browsing on the devices.

After months of standoff between the Gulf and Canada, the UAE telecommunications regulator said on Friday that RIM had brought its devices into line with strict local jurisdictions on security and encryption. Although the details of the compromise are unknown, RIM is thought to have granted some access to communications passed between devices to the UAE government, though there is no confirmation of this from either side.”

From The Guardian

Weak link in the security of websites discovered

“It seems that there is a potentially serious security flaw in the way that some banking, e-commerce and financial websites rely on third-party digital certificate portals for their security.

According to a weekend report in the New York Times, because the number of ‘certificate authorities’ has blossomed into the hundreds, it is becoming “increasingly difficult to trust” that sites are not using the certificates for nefarious purposes.

The New York Times says that the power to appoint certificate authorities has been delegated by browser makers like Microsoft, Mozilla, Google and Apple to various companies, including Verizon. “Those entities, in turn, have certified others, creating a proliferation of trusted ‘certificate authorities’ according to internet security researchers”, says the paper.

But the bad news, the electronic civil liberties organisation says, is that some of these organisations are in countries like Russia and China, which are suspected of engaging in widespread surveillance of their citizens.”


Activists Decry Repression on Internet

“A media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has accused the United Arab Emirates of arresting people who used the popular BlackBerry device to organize a street protest against petrol price increases. The incident highlighted how governments around the world are increasingly using internet and mobile technology to undermine civil liberties.

Internet freedom activists say the Dubai episode is the latest incident in an alarming trend – that entire governments are censoring the internet.

“Increasingly, we see governments push businesses and ask them to take actions that actually assist in government surveillance and censorship,” Cynthia Wong said. “The way that companies decide to respond to these requests will have a huge impact on human rights.””

From The Voice of America

BlackBerry deal just one step in UAE’s security crackdown

“They tried to sneak it in, and got caught,” said Theodore Karasik, director of research and development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai of UAE’s past attempts to hack the BlackBerry as part of a broad campaign to improve intelligence. “Now they’re going the opposite way, just declaring what they need.”

Dubai, the UAE’s largest city, is a case study in the need for such surveillance. In the same way that Vienna served as a waypoint for rogues from all sides of the world wars, this desert city has now become a den of intrigue about the Middle East and South Asia. According to local analysis the Arab states are only demanding the same surveillance capacity thought to be already available to several other countries, suh as Russia, China and the United States.

Some described the issue as a matter of national pride for the United Arab Emirates.

“RIM succumbed to so many other countries, so why not ours?” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a politics professor at Emirates University. “It’s about double standards. We’re a booming economy, an important market, and the Canadians should respect us.”

From The Globe and Mail

Citizen Lab commentary on BlackBerry services in the UAE

Citizen Lab Director Professor Deibert has been interviewed by multiple international news agencies on the recent controversy surrounding BlackBerry services in the United Arab Emirates.

The following news sources feature Professor Deibert’s comments on the matter. He specifically comments on how the restrictions made by the United Arab Emirates are related to broader governmental fears of cyber security which exist internationally.

Citizen Lab media commentary can be found HERE.

Repression in Motion

CBC’s Matt Galloway spoke with Ron Deibert regarding the UAE threat to ban RIM products over national security concerns. Watch here .

Security issues may stall BlackBerry overseas

“Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry smart phone, faces increasing challenges to its overseas expansion as developing countries tighten restrictions on mobile e-mail.

‘It’s a reflection of fears of cyber-security and espionage that now extend to mobile phones,’ said Ron Deibert, director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, who helped colleagues uncover a plot against the Indian government that involved computers in China. ‘It’s the type of thing that will become more common for RIM as they grapple with public policy and ethical issues in emerging markets.'”

From San Francisco Chronicle

UAE’s BlackBerry ban: Why is Canada silent?

“The UAE’s BlackBerry ban drew condemnation from freedom monitors and the US government, but nothing from Canada, BlackBerry’s home country.

“I think this is a glaring absence and it’s part of a lamentable lack of attention this government has given to cyberspace,” says Ronald Deibert, director of The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.”

From The Christian Science Monitor