Secretly installing surveillance applications is one thing. Borking up the install in a way which harms the reputation of the manufacturer is another.

Etisalat, a carrier in the UAE, has done the latter – and RIM has now responded by posting an Etisalat patch remover to its web site:

Recently an update may have been provided to you by Etisalat for your BlackBerry Handheld via a WAP push. The Etisalat update is not a RIM-authorized update and was not developed by RIM. Independent sources have concluded that the Etisalat update is not designed to improve performance of your BlackBerry Handheld, but rather to send received messages back to a central server. RIM has developed this software (“Software”) that will enable you to remove the Etisalat update.

First of all: surveillance and censorship happens NOW and CLOSER TO YOU than you may think. I don’t want to know what which carrier does, but can give you a sample: the (usually docile) Hutchison group has a list of web sites it considers “inappropriate” and bans them on its own (even though it is not required to do so under Austrian law).

RIM most likely doesn’t take with surveillance, but rather has eekers with the outfall…which could harm their brand as consumers consider RIM handsets unreliable.

I would dare to bet my hide that the same software will deployed again in the near future…


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