UAE operator, Etisalat has denied that a recent software patch it sent to its customer's BlackBerry handsets was spyware designed to allow it to monitor communications. Abdulla Hashim, vice president of enterprise solutions for Etisalat insisted in an interview that the patch was as claimed, designed to improve handover performance between GSM and 3G networks.
Following complaints about degraded performance after the patch was installed, it was claimed that the software was spyware, and Research in Motion issued a statement saying that the software upgrade was not authorised by itself.
"Independent sources have concluded that it is possible that the installed software could ... enable unauthorized access to private or confidential information stored on the user's smart phone," the company said in an eight-page statement strongly distancing itself from the decision to install the software.
"This patch is not for spying," Hashim told Arabian Business in an exclusive interview. "Etisalat has 3G and 2G networks and this (the patch) was to enhance the handover from 3G to 2G when people are moving around the UAE as 3G is not 100 percent. 3G is 97 percent coverage."
"The patch has been stopped being issued. It caused problems and we sent correction software to customers to remove it," he added.
Meanwhile, an online poll by Arabian Business found that more than half of Etisalat's BlackBerry customers are planning to ditch the telecoms provider.
Rival operator, Du has responded to the issue by stating that it only ever issues RIM approved software patches.