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UAE to suspend internet-based BlackBerry services in October

By the CNN Wire Staff
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UAE to block BlackBerry
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Services targeted include e-mail, web browsing and instant messaging
  • Suspension is over the failure to comply with national regulations
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Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- The United Arab Emirates has decided to ban the web operations of more than half a million BlackBerry users until security issues can be hashed out, the state news agency reported.

The state-run Emirates News Agency said the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has confirmed that BlackBerry Messenger, BlackBerry E-mail and BlackBerry web-browsing services in the UAE will be suspended as of October 11.

The news agency said that 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.

"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," the news agency reported.

Telecom expert Abdel Rahman al Mazi told CNN that the ban will go into effect October 11, but government officials hope to work out the issues to avoid such a move.

"This is not a new thing ... it has been discussed in other countries," al-Mazi said. "If they put enough pressure on BlackBerry ...they would come with a solution that will be acceptable.

"Many people in the industry say BlackBerry (is) the most secure system, so secure that nobody can break the security level of BlackBerry.... but on that same wavelength you have to think that some of the activities that go on within the BlackBerry user community could need to be monitored by some government agencies for security reasons."

"As a telecom person I would love to see BlackBerry stay," he added.

BlackBerry officials could not be reached for comment Sunday as their offices were closed.