UAE withdraws Blackberry ban

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Travelers to the United Arab Emirates can breathe a sign of relief: they won't have to be parted from their Blackberrys after all.

The country has withdrawn its threat to shut off all Blackberry messaging, email and web browsing on Monday, saying it's now satisfied that the devices comply with the UAE's regulatory framework.

"All Blackberry services in the UAE will continue to operate as normal and no suspension of service will occur on October 11, 2010," the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) told state news agency WAM.

It said that RIM had cooperated with the state authorities to make this possible, but gave no details. RIM's believed to have been in negotiations with the UAE on the matter for as long as three years. The UAE had been calling on RIM to locate encrypted servers within the country, a demand which RIM was resisting.

The TRA had threatened to cut the services off over security concerns: because data is held abroad, and because they use proprietary encryption technology, they are hard for the authorities to monitor when illegal activity is suspected.

With an estimated half-million local Blackberry users as well as numerous foreign visitors, a ban would have had a powerful effect. The wording of the TRA statement suggests the reprieve is permanent.

India and Saudi Arabia have threatened similar bans over the same security concerns.