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BlackBerry Torch 9800 launch clouded by security spat with UAE

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Still, the battle underscores the difficulties that high-tech firms can face in going global, and especially into emerging-market nations. Concessions to one nation may pave the way for RIM to face growing pressure from other national governments as well. (According to news reports, nations including India, Kuwait, and Bahrain have also voiced BlackBerry-related security concerns.)

And it could open the company to criticism that its policies hurt the cause of open communication and civil liberties.

The UAE says BlackBerry services are "the only data services operating in the UAE" in which messages are immediately exported out of the country, and out of potential surveillance by authorities, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in a statement over the weekend.

"Certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns," the authority said.

BlackBerry services including encrypted e-mail, web-browsing, and instant messaging will be suspended in October unless the two sides reach a deal.

The dispute calls fresh attention to a policy arena of growing importance – the balance of power between technology users and governments. Tussles between Google and the government of China are another recent case in point.

Gadgets like smartphones empower people in many positive ways, but can also be used as tools of terrorism, prompting calls for governmental surveillance ability. Human-rights activists worry, meanwhile, that such surveillance could endanger legitimate social activism in some countries.

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