Um, yikes? An unexpected (and unwanted) surprise struck some 145,000 BlackBerry users in the UAE this time last week, when an official looking prompt coerced many of the aforesaid Etisalat customers to follow through with a software update. Rather than bringing about performance enhancements, the SS8-built app enabled the carrier to keep tabs on customers' messages. According to RIM:

"Etisalat appears to have distributed a telecommunications surveillance application... independent sources have concluded that it is possible that the installed software could then enable unauthorized access to private or confidential information stored on the user's smartphone. 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."

Like we said, yikes. The zaniest part is that Etisalat isn't backing down, still assuring the world that the upgrades were "required for service enhancements." At any rate, RIM has made remarkably clear that the update wasn't one authorized by the company, and it's even providing an app remover for those who'd prefer their BlackBerry to be in working order and, you know, not forwarding all their email to some dude in an Etisalat supply closet. Good on you, RIM. Bad on you, Etisalat.

[Thanks, Gerald]

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