The United Arab Emirates said today it plans to block some messaging and Web services on BlackBerry smart phones, days after it warned the device could pose a potential threat to national security and social values.
The UAE telecommunications watchdog said it will suspend messaging, e-mail and Web browsing services starting October 11.
Regulators say the devices operate outside of laws put in place after their introduction in the country. The government said it is singling out the BlackBerry, and not other phones that can access e-mail and the Web, because the devices automatically send users' data to servers overseas, where local laws don't apply.
Analysts and activists say that makes it harder for authorities to monitor what users are saying or doing, renewing questions about the UAE's efforts to control the flow of information in the conservative country that is home to the Gulf business capital Dubai and the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Regulators said they had failed to reach an agreement with device maker Research in Motion on the issue.
"With no solution available and in the public interest, in order to effect resolution of this issue, as of October 11, 2010, Blackberry Messenger, Blackberry E-mail and Blackberry Web-browsing services will be suspended until an acceptable solution can be developed and applied," Telecommunications Regulatory Authority director-general Mohamed al-Ghanim said in a statement.
"The TRA notes that Blackberry appears to be compliant in similar regulatory environments of other countries, which makes noncompliance in the UAE both disappointing and of great concern," he added.
Regulators say the lack of compliance with local laws raises "judicial, social and national security concerns for the UAE," according to Sunday's statement.
A spokeswoman for Research in Motion said the Canadian company had no immediate comment.
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