UAE backs down over BlackBerry ban

The ongoing feud between the United Arab Emirates and RIM appears to have subsided with the news that telecoms operators will continue to allow BlackBerry mobile devices to operate in the country.

A deadline had been given of October 11th for RIM to fall in line with the government’s demands over access to its servers, but it has just been announced that the BlackBerry manufacturer meets the necessary requirements.

UAE’s news network WAM announced the following:

“The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has confirmed that Blackberry services are now compliant with the UAE’s telecommunications regulatory framework. Therefore all Blackberry services in the UAE will continue to operate as normal and no suspension of service will occur on October 11, 2010.”

However, quite why RIM’s device has suddenly been accepted despite no announcement from the manufacturers themselves – and previously stating that they would not change their own policy to adhere to individual international requirements – is uncertain.

“It is unclear what will have changed in the nature of the RIM service that could lead the regulator to be ‘satisfied services on the devices are now compliant with its security needs’ as has been reported when it had previously said the encryption of the BlackBerry service and the storage of data outside of the UAE’s border contravened local policy,” said Principal Analyst at Ovum, Tony Cripps.

“RIM itself has said nothing on the statement but has previously been very clear that it would not change the architecture of the BlackBerry services to placate countries who found its extremely tight security objectionable.”

With RIM seemingly holding its ground, Cripps believes that the government is monitoring traffic from within the country.

“We can only hypothesise that some kind of workaround has been agreed in terms and conditions between the UAE regulator and local carriers – and no doubt with RIM’s input – to gain access to emails sent over the BlackBerry service at a point in the delivery process that is outside of RIM’s control.”

UAE is just one of the countries including Saudi Arabia and India which have demanded access to information from RIMs servers which is deemed to be of importance with regards to national security. 

The deal would not be unique however as the United States operates with a similar set-up – wherein they monitor email traffic internally.