U.A.E. Halts Plan to Ban BlackBerry
HONG KONG Y3HOO — The United Arab Emirates, one of several countries that have threatened to suspend services for the Blackberry smartphones this year, on Friday backed away from a ban that was to have come into effect on Monday, after reaching an agreement with the popular messaging devices’ manufacturer, Research In Motion.
The U.A.E. telecommunications regulator said BlackBerry services were now “compliant with the U.A.E.’s telecommunications regulatory framework,” and that all BlackBerry services would continue to operate as normal beyond Monday.
It was not clear what, if any, concessions, R.I.M. had made to avert the bans. A representative for R.I.M. in Britain could not be reached immediately for comment on Friday. But the U.A.E. telecommunications authority said that R.I.M., which is based in Canada and is one of the world’s largest makers of smartphones, had shown “positive engagement” in reaching a compromise.
One analyst said the announcement meant that RIM had either consented to share encryption data with U.A.E. officials, which it had previously said was impossible to do, or that U.A.E. regulators had relented, wary of the economic impact of losing Blackberry service in the Emirates.
“Either the U.A.E. allowed RIM to provide the same services, realizing the threats from BlackBerry services are extremely limited, or they have come to some sort of technical agreement — the most likely outcome — where RIM would allow the U.A.E. government to have limited access to BlackBerry data by providing an encryption key in extreme circumstances,” said Shardul Schrimani, an analyst in London at IHS Global Insight, a research firm.
If the ban had been imposed, U.A.E. businesses would have instigated a major backlash against the government, Mr. Schrimani said in an interview.
The U.A.E., home to the key financial and air transport hub of Dubai, in August had cited security concerns as a reason for threatening a ban on BlackBerry e-mail and Web-browsing services.
Governments in Saudi Arabia and India earlier this year expressed security concerns about R.I.M.’s reluctance to provide them with access to its encrypted e-mail traffic — an information flow that R.I.M., whose success in corporate e-mail is largely built on the security features of its delivery system itself, claims to have no way of decoding.
The Saudi government later lifted the threat of a ban, while the authorities in India, one of R.I.M.’s fastest-growing markets, in late August said they would study for two months a proposal by the company to facilitate some access to messages by the Indian law enforcement agencies.
Kevin J. O’Brien contributed reporting from Berlin.