Thursday, August 5, 2010

Humorous Aside: Governments unite against free communications

Research in Motion's blackberry is being banned or having its communications restricted around the globe because its communications equipment is too secure for a repressive government to see what its citizens are saying to each other. It is happening in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia - you can check it out here. (August 12th addition: India just added itself to this list of nations trying to restrict communication freedoms)

Why is it that these nations want to ban the blackberry? The first and most obvious reason is that they do not want to allow any oppositional political organization happening without them knowing about it. The second reason I can think of is to avoid embarassments - no one likes being embarassed. If something embarassing to them starts spreading on the internet or on cell phones, they can filter it out by banning certain terms, but with the blackberry they lose control of this. One can't help but wonder exactly what communications these governments are wanting to access and whether such abilities would be used to spy on political rivals or worse.

It occurred to me that I recently read an embarassing story about how wealthy Indonesians drink a type of fecal coffee (the beans are fermented in an animal's stomach, excreted, cleaned and made into a rich smooth coffee). Perhaps the Indonesian elites who are responsible for trying to spy on blackberry users merely want control of the flow of embarassing cat-poop-coffee jokes making fun of their favourite beverage.