Emirates leaders are most likely pushing for the ability to subpoena BlackBerry messages in the event the user is implicated in a crime. This privilege is already afforded to governments in the United States and Canada. The US is even pushing for the ability to request such information without a subpoena.
“Openness and tolerance is key to [the UAE’s] economy. It can’t be an open and tolerant place if it starts to impose police state-style security,” says Krane.
Still, unlike the US and Canada, the legal system in Dubai lacks enough transparency that BlackBerry may feel uneasy giving information about their users to UAE authorities.
“In the UAE if a subpoena of BlackBerry were made available, what could happen to the person who ends up being arrested? The human rights record is pretty grim. Also, how responsible are the authorities?” says Christopher Davidson, author of “Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success.” “I’m not sure that the citizens and the residents of the UAE would be comfortable with the authorities having access to their private communications.”
Mr. Davidson adds that although UAE authorities say they are acting in the same of security, it is highly likely that they want to curtail activists who often use BlackBerrys to organize protests or send controversial information about government officials.
Meanwhile, businesspeople and personal BlackBerry users alike are bracing for the worst. The UAE’s 500,000 BlackBerry users make up some 11 percent of the cellphone market in the Gulf nation. Additionally, the ban would also affect anyone visiting the UAE with a BlackBerry.