BlackBerry is watching you – UPDATED (15/07/09)

stuff_etisalat

Both the Blog and Twitter-spheres are buzzing today with talk of Orwellian conspiracies coming off the back of a recent upgrade to Etisalat’s BlackBerry subscription service. This “routine upgrade” left countless customers with quick draining batteries and even quicker draining patience yesterday.

The upgrade has since been pulled and Etisalat are investigating the matter – allegedly contacting customers who have experienced this problem. Stuff was luckily unaffected (probably due to our Ultra Update Laser Defense System) but found it odd that an upgrade for network performance would not be handled on the Phone Carrier side, so in doing our research we stumbled across this interesting piece on popular local blog Fake Plastic Souks that goes into some detail about the update possibly being cover for the implementation of a monitoring application by security company SS8.

Are Etisalat attempting to screen our text messages? Nothing is substantiated at this point in time but it did make us think about breaking out the tin foil hats.

UPDATE (15/07/09): It seems that a user created removal for the battery draining registration update has been created and posted (by user tibilsoft ) on the Blackberry Support Forums with the following instructions:

Download attached zip file. Unzip it. Connect your device to the computer. Run “Remove Registration.bat” file

This small batch file  removes the malicious registration update from the device, however as of this writing it is still unconfirmed if it works in all cases or whether it fixes the widespread battery draining problems people have been experiencing.

ONCE AGAIN: We have not tested this and in no way recommend you go out and try it unless you know what you are doing or are some kind of space-maverick. Stuff accepts no responsibility for whatever kind of silly buggers you decide to play on your phone.

UPDATE: In our ever endeavouring quest to get to the bottom of this we have sent emails to both Etisalat & RIM asking for their side to the story and are eagerly awaiting a reply. Stuff has also spent a good portion of the day trying to get a local SS8 representative to answer our phone calls but sadly to no avail. We will keep you posted on any developments.

UPDATE: For those interested in the tech side of this whole debacle (and we know you are) we recommend checking out this post on the official BlackBerry forums, it dives head first into what was contained in the ominous registration.jar update file.

UPDATE: Several users on twitter have come up with unconfirmed quick fixes for the problem including @reuven_p who suggests deleting the update. He sure is brave. We have no way of knowing whether this actually works and certainly don’t recommend you mess around with your phone’s settings.

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3 responses to “BlackBerry is watching you – UPDATED (15/07/09)

  1. Pingback: UAE/Etisalat BlackBerry Spying « Sousveillance

  2. Pingback: Thanks, Gulf News! | UAEBlogging.com

  3. Pingback: Patch released for Etisalat ‘SpyWare’ on BlackBerry | BlackBerryNews.com

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