21 July, 2009

UAE Blackberry story reaches BBC

It's not news, but the BBC seems to have a comprehensive report.

The update was prompted by a text from UAE telecoms firm Etisalat, suggesting it would improve performance.

Instead, the update resulted in crashes or drastically reduced battery life.

Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) said in a statement the update was not authorised, developed, or tested by RIM.
In the statement, RIM told customers that "Etisalat appears to have distributed a telecommunications surveillance application... independent sources have concluded that it is possible that the installed software could then enable unauthorised access to private or confidential information stored on the user's smartphone".

It adds that "independent sources have concluded that the Etisalat update is not designed to improve performance of your BlackBerry Handheld, but rather to send received messages back to a central server".
RIM has now issued its own update allowing users to remove the application.


Anonymous said...

I would bet my entire savings account that etisalat will pull a page from the Atlantis files and simply ignore everyone until we all forget about the shar...immoral software.

Al-Mansouri said...

How can everyone be so calm about this??

Privacy is a cornerstone of our society. this is clearly a breach of our most vital principles!

Rise up and Demand for your Rights people!

unJane said...

Privacy is a cornerstone of your society? In your dreams, buddy. I do admire your spunk, though. Go get 'em!!

Al-Mansouri said...

My Dreams?

While I duly appreciate your attempt to entertain an unseen audience with sarcasm, I have to say that you clearly know very little about us -contrary to what you may believe- coupled with fact that you did not understand what I said on the basis that I used the word "privacy" in a context that may sound familiar to you as a "Western" Woman. (assuming your name is truly Jane)

My narration may start to sound alien to you, I do not blame you. I blame globalization among other things. Regardless, I shall attempt to clarify my prior statement in the post above based on facts familiar to the "Western" world view. And yes, I am generalizing for the sake of brevity and simplicity, so bear with me.

Based on English common-law, which is also recongized legally in the U.S., The word "privacy" implies to an individual's right to be left alone or in the context of traspassing on private property. I meant niether. I used the word "privacy" to describe the equivalent notion we hold in our society. Namely that of the "personal","secluded" and "secret". As a matter of fact and to dispel further misunderstandings, there is no word for "privacy" in the Arabic language. So you might be correct in your reasoning, However, we do hold the same universal human notion. The only words I could think of right now are "Hishma" "حشمة" , "Hurma""حرمة" and "Sitr" "ستر".

As I said earlier, Privacy is a cornerstone of our society. It is so embedded in our Islamic-Arabic culture that its roots and meanings becomes invisible, and sadly sometimes lost, to us... let alone undiscriminating Westerners.

For instance, A Muslim woman wears a Hijab and Veil that covers her entirety not only as an act of modesty but also as an act of "Hishma" -to seclude her self from general public and include herself in a closed societal unit of family and household.

You can think of this act as being fundamentally equivilent to the meaning of the word "Privacy" in western lexicon and thought. Only difference is that the Muslim woman motivations are not to be Individualist, rather to be part of a social group. (i.e. the family) It is a right and an exclusive priviledge that our society endows the woman. not only reflected in dress, but also in gender roles, behaviour, space and even architecture.

There are so much more examples I could draw from you that show that "privacy" is a sacred cornerstone of our society. but I hope that I proved that by now. (God Willing) Lets go back to the point at hand.

What Etisalat did is a clear breach of one of our most core values. It deserve in the least to be corrected, and at best, to be punished.

You might be wondering right now, Why am I so upset at this?

I will tell you why... If they start spy on our means of private communications first, they will gradually desecrate more of our liberties unstopped. We cannot allow this to be the start.

We have a saying: If something happens once, It will never happen again. But if it happens twice, then prepare for the third time.

Thank you for listening, and apologies on any short comings.

unJane said...

@ Al-Mansouri - I apologize for causing offense. It was not my intention and I don't believe I was being sarcastic. I was pleased by your outrage as I don't see enough of it. In anyone's society. There was a popular bumper sticker during the Bush years that read "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention". I appreciate your elucidation on the difference in personal privacy between east and west. And I completely agree that once a government feels free to erode the civil liberties of its citizens there is no easy way to end the practice. What I don't see is a society comfortable enough about its rights to demand better. There is most definitely an element of fear because the law seems a little 'off the books' and what's legal or acceptable today is not necessarily so tomorrow. Take the case of Emarat Al Youm. Did they knowingly publish something they knew would cause their publication to be shut down or were they as surprised as everyone else? Anyway, thanks again for the post. I am happy to know that you are out there demanding your rights. I am cheering you on from the sidelines.

Dubai Entrepreneur said...


Huh?! Privacy is خصوصية

While I agree with you that the notion of privacy is most likely to be a universal one, I am baffled by your inability to find the word-for-word translation of the word. Not having a corresponding word would only mean that we don't even have the notion of privacy. That contradicts your statement of it being a universal one.

UnJane, you're too patronizing for my taste.

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