TRA suspends BlackBerry services amid security concerns

2 Aug 2010

The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has confirmed that it will suspend BlackBerry’s Messenger, e-mail and web-browsing services from 11 October 2010, following the failure of ongoing attempts to bring the services in line with the country’s telecoms regulations. According to the regulator, ‘certain Blackberry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns for the UAE.’ The device, which is manufactured by Canada-based Research In Motion (RIM), has a highly encrypted data system which offers security to users but makes it more difficult to monitor communications; encrypted data sent using the smartphone is moved abroad where it cannot be monitored for illegal activity, which violates the country’s 2007 Safety, Emergency and National Security rules. ‘With no solution available and in the public interest, in order to affect resolution of this issue, as of 11 October 2010, BlackBerry Messenger, E-mail and Web-browsing services will be suspended until an acceptable solution can be developed and applied,’ commented Mohamed Al Ghanim, director general of the TRA, adding: ‘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.’ The regulator announced that both of the country’s telecoms operators – Etisalat and Du – have been informed of the decision and have been notified to ensure minimal consumer disruption in the provision of alternative services.