The United Arab Emirates is reportedly going to stop individuals and small businesses from using certain BlackBerry messaging services, but the government says that no customers will be affected.
The Wall Street Journal, citing a statement from Research In Motion, reported that the government of the UAE will stop any business with less than 20 employees or private individuals from using the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which encrypts emails. The BES is considered one of the best encryption services available. RIM said in October that it was in compliance with existing UAE regulations.
RIM said such users will still be able to use the BlackBerry Individual Solutions accounts, but those are less secure. The new rules are scheduled to take effect May 1.
Meanwhile the UAE's telecoms regulator, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, said it confirms the continuation of all Blackberry services in the UAE to both individuals and to business customers, including Blackberry messenger, Blackberry email and Blackberry browsing. It isn't clear whether that applies to BES. The TRA said it will clarify its position later this week. There are about 500,000 BlackBerry users in the UAE.
Monitoring electronic communications has become a bigger issue for many countries in the Middle East. In Egypt, social networks such as Facebook became important tools for organizers, and the Egyptian government cut off Internet access entirely for several days. The government of Libya has taken a similar tack. Other Persian Gulf states such as Bahrain and Oman have experienced protests and some violence. The UAE has thus far been spared that kind of unrest.