The Null Device

2009/7/15

A phone carrier in the United Arab Emirates recently pushed out a patch for BlackBerry handsets, which it advertised as a "performance enhancement", but which, on closer examination, turned out to contain a remotely activatable surveillance programme:

The spying program in the patch is switched off by default on installation, but switching it on would be a simple matter of pushing out a command from the server to any device, causing the device to then send a copy of the user’s subsequent e-mail and text messages to the server.
I wonder what the story here is; is the UAE's government too cheap to shell out for some of that sweet Nokia Siemens surveillance gear the Iranian government has been reportedly very pleased with? Was the patch planted by other agencies (The Mossad? The Iranian secret service? Organised crime?) Or is Dubai trying to build the world's most elaborate context-based advertising system?

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