When the United Arab Emirates announced last week that it would suspend BlackBerry service within its borders starting this fall, business travelers who rely on the handheld devices reacted with understandable dismay. But the decision was greeted quite differently by the men and women who make a living hunting terrorists, smugglers, human traffickers, foreign agents and the occasional team of clumsy assassins. Among law enforcement investigators and intelligence officers, the Emirates' decision met with approval, admiration and perhaps even a touch of envy.
Why? Because just as professionals depend on mobile devices to do their jobs, law enforcement and intelligence officers depend on electronic surveillance to do theirs. The Emirates made their decision principally because Research in Motion, the Canadian company that provides BlackBerry services, refused to modify its information architecture in a way that would enable authorities to intercept the communications of select subscribers.