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Blackberry maker questions Etisalat software upgrade

The Etisalat software, classified as "spyware" by a prominent mobile security company, was "not a patch and it is not a RIM authorised upgrade," the company said.

ABU DHABI // Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that produces the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device, has distanced itself from a recent software patch sent to its UAE customers by Etisalat, and called into question statements made by the operator. In a statement mailed to the media, RIM said the Etisalat software ? labelled as "spyware" by a prominent mobile security company ? is "not a patch and it is not a RIM authorised upgrade". "RIM did not develop this software application and RIM was not involved in any way in the testing, promotion or distribution of this software application," it said. "Independent sources have concluded that the Etisalat update is not designed to improve performance of your BlackBerry hand-held, but rather to send received messages back to a central server." Like Etisalat, RIM has said little on the software patch since reports of its negative effects on handsets and intended function as a e-mail monitoring and tool emerged last week. The company cancelled scheduled interviews with the local media and has not replied to requests for comment. But in the eight-page statement, the company took issue with Etisalat's response, which described the patch as "required for service enhancements particularly for issues identified related to the handover between 2G to 3G network coverage areas". According to the RIM document, "in general terms, a third-party patch cannot provide any enhancements to network services as there is no capability for third parties to develop or modify the low-level radio communications protocols that would be involved in making such improvements." "In this case, Etisalat appears to have distributed a telecommunications surveillance application," it added, saying that it "does not endorse the development of this type of software for any platform." tgara@thenational.ae

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