Qatar’s telecommunication regulatory body yesterday dismissed fears it will ban key BlackBerry services in the country.
The Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQatar), however, said it might consider regulating BlackBerry services if the telecommunication service providers in the country or a national security agency requested it to do so.
Saudi Arabia’s telecom regulator yesterday ordered local operators to freeze the Messenger function for BlackBerry users this month, just hours after the UAE said it was suspending some of the BlackBerry services from October 11.
“At this stage we have no intention of banning BlackBerry in Qatar, as there is nothing to substantiate or any proof to believe there has been a contravention of any term,” ictQatar Regulatory Authority acting assistant secretary general Meegan Webb told Gulf Times.
“There’s nothing to demonstrate that either Qtel or Vodafone are in breach of the licensing obligations set by ictQatar or the telecommunication laws of the country,” Webb said.
As opposed to the Saudis, who banned only the Messenger function on Blackberry, the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) ordered the suspension of BlackBerry Messenger, BlackBerry e-mail and BlackBerry web-browsing from October 11.
Webb said that until ictQatar received any objection from a state security agency, the matter would not be pursued.
“I’ve not received any objection to the way BlackBerry data is managed, by any security agency in Qatar, especially regarding the issue of data being routed off-shore,” Webb said.
“Allegedly, this affects the UAE’s telecommunication laws.”
BlackBerry devices allow users to send messages that can’t be monitored, as data is immediately exported off-shore before a user receives it again.
According to experts, the UAE and Saudi decisions are based on the fact that, in their current form, certain BlackBerry services might allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns.
UAE’ TRA director-general Mohamed al-Ganem said: “With no solution available and in the public interest, … 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.”