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The number of countries considering BlackBerry bans is growing, although UAE is off the list for now. The BlackBerry controversy comes as a growing number of countries, including the United States, seek ways to eavesdrop on people using mobile technology. India has a deadline at the end of the month for BlackBerry to comply with its laws on eavesdropping. Saudi Arabia and the UAE had threatened to do the same, but eventually backed off on Monday, The Associated Press reports.
The problem is that, according to experts, the corporate version of the BlackBerry email system has such a strong encryption system it is nearly impossible to eavesdrop on it without the cooperation of BlackBerry. The system was designed to be strong to keep the user's materials safe from being intercepted. However, authorities are concerned it is being used to shield illegal activity.
The Associated Press reports that it is unknown what concessions BlackBerry made to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to get them to change their stances. However, it is unlikely that BlackBerry would agreed, nor would have been able to give the government complete access to their systems. That's because, according to BlackBerry, the company would have had to rebuild its entire system in the country to be insecure.
It's worth noting that it is already technically possible for governments to access BlackBerry emails, but they dislike it because it is slow and requires substantial work to obtain a warrant and access the encrypted information.
For now, it looks like a case of wait and see in the U.S. and abroad regarding BlackBerry bans. The government is unlikely to give up easily in its quest for access to encrypted information. By the same token, BlackBerry is unlikely to give up its bread and butter, and the company is no pushover.