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TRA to ban Blackberry services from October

UAE’s telecoms regulator confirms plan to ban Blackberry services, citing security issues

The UAE's TRA said it will ban Blackberry services from October.
The UAE's TRA said it will ban Blackberry services from October.

The UAE's telecom regulator, the TRA, will suspend Research in Motion's Blackberry services, including email and web browsing, from October 11.

The TRA said in a statement that its decision was due to "the failure of ongoing attempts" spanning two years to bring Blackberry services in the UAE in line with the country's telecoms regulations. The regulator added that it had already informed the UAE's two telecoms operators, Etisalat and Du, of its decision.

Data from Blackberry users is immediately encrypted and sent to the company's data centres in Canada, rather than being processed locally, and this puts the services at odds with the UAE's telecoms regulatory framework, which was established by the TRA in 2007.

"Blackberry data is immediately exported off-shore, where it is managed by a foreign, commercial organization. Blackberry data services are currently the only data services operating in the UAE where this is the case," the TRA said in a statement.

"Today's decision is based on the fact that, in their current form, certain Blackberry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns for the UAE."

Mohamed Al Ghanim, director general, TRA, said: "The TRA notes that Blackberry appears to be compliant in similar regulatory environments of other countries, which makes non-compliance in the UAE both disappointing and of great concern."

Canada-based Research in Motion is facing problems from a growing number of countries that have a problem with encrypted data bypassing their security agencies. The government of India has already threatened to stop Blackberry services in the country unless RIM finds a way of sharing its customer's data with its security agencies, after rumours emerged that RIM had already reached a compromise with Chinese authorities.