October 8, 2010

UAE Cancels Proposed BlackBerry Ban

Officials from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced that they have reached a settlement with BlackBerry manufacturers Research In Motion (RIM) and will no longer pursue a ban on the device's email, instant messaging, and Internet services that was to start Monday.

"The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has confirmed that Blackberry services are now compliant with the UAE's telecommunications regulatory framework," the agency said in a statement originally released through state news agency WAM. "Therefore all Blackberry services in the UAE will continue to operate as normal and no suspension of service will occur on October 11, 2010."

According to Acil Tabbara of the AFP, "the TRA statement acknowledged 'the positive engagement and collaboration'" of Canadian-based RIM "in reaching this regulatorily compliant outcome." Tabbara also reports, "There were no immediate details on what concessions, if any, RIM might have made in order to avoid the ban. A company executive would not comment."

The BlackBerry is used by an estimated 500,000 people in the UAE, and is prized by people throughout the Middle East who value the smartphone as a vital business tool. However, several countries, including the UAE, have expressed concern because of the BlackBerry's data encryption methods, as well as the fact that servers in other countries are used to store the information sent and received by devices.

Furthermore, according to Reuters, "The UAE had voiced concerns over its inability to access the information through legal means, citing security and sovereignty issues, and had emphasized it was not able to reach a deal since new telecoms regulations took effect three years ago."

Experts viewed Friday's announcement in a mostly positive light, but with some caveats.

"It's going to come as quite a relief," Matthew Reed, an analyst with the research firm Informa Telecoms & Media and a BlackBerry user himself, told AP Business Writer Adam Schreck on Friday. "It was not at all clear what would happen until right up to the end... [but] RIM's big corporate clients might be wondering what kind of compromises it might have made."


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