Tuesday, August 03, 2010

In Criticizing UAE's Plans to Block BlackBerry Service, U.S. Government is Walking a Fine Line

Cecilia King writes in The Washington Post:

With the State Department’s criticism of the United Arab Emirates for blocking BlackBerry services, the U.S. government is left walking a fine line -– preaching for global Internet freedom at the same time that federal authorities are seeking greater powers to monitor Web users, privacy advocates say.

In a media briefing Monday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the UAE’s move to block instant messaging, e-mail and Web browsing on BlackBerry devices starting Oct. 11 would set a “dangerous precedent” for other nations to also block the flow of information to their citizens.

The UAE responded by defending its actions and pointing to similar actions by the United States and Britain to suspend certain communications services for national security purposes.

“In fact, the UAE is asking for exactly the same regulatory compliance -- and with the same principles of judicial and regulatory oversight -- that BlackBerry grants the U.S. and other governments and nothing more,” Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said in a statement. “Importantly, the UAE requires the same compliance as the U.S. for the very same reasons: to protect national security and to assist in law enforcement.”

U.S. authorities have increasingly sought greater ability to wiretap and access e-mail and possibly browser history of users on the grounds of law enforcement and national security concerns, privacy advocates say.

More here.


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