Etisalat was by the UAE Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) today to suspend BlackBerry services providing email, web browsing, instant messaging and social networking from October 11, 2010. It said the suspension would remain in place until "an acceptable solution can be developed and applied which brings the BlackBerry services in line with the UAE's telecommunications regulations."
The regulator informed the UAE government last week that is was concerned the communication format fell outside the jurisdiction relating to the country's mobile phone laws.
“Certain Blackberry applications allow people to misuse the service, causing serious social, judicial and national security repercussions,” a regulator spokesman said.
Etisalat have issued the following statement:
"This is an important decision made by the Regulatory Authority and we fully understand the legal and social considerations behind the decision.
Etisalat has an obligation to act within the law and the regulations of the TRA, while at the same time, providing our customers with the best service. Etisalat has a significant share of customers in the UAE for its mobility services, including BlackBerry customers and hence it is very important for us to ensure our customers enjoy continuity of services.
Etisalat's focus at the current time is to make sure its valued customers experience continuity of mobility services. In line with its commitment towards its customers, Etisalat will soon be announcing a range of alternative mobility products and services for its existing blackberry customers."
Customers and industry experts have expressed concerns that the move is a veiled attempt to censor content. Unlike SMS, Blackberry's instant messages are not stored, meaning their content cannot be tracked or accessed by outside parties.