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UAE reverses plan to ban BlackBerry

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Blackberry agreement in the UAE
  • The country says BlackBerry services have conformed to regulations
  • The news agency does not say how the UAE's concerns have been addressed
  • BlackBerry is the dominant smartphone in the UAE

Abu Dhabi, Uae (CNN) -- The United Arab Emirates will not implement a planned ban on all BlackBerry services that was to have gone into effect next week, the state news agency said Friday.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority confirmed that all BlackBerry services have conformed to the agency's regulations, the WAM news agency said.

As a result, authorities will not follow through with a ban on services that was to have gone into effect on Monday.

The news agency did not immediately say how Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that produces the BlackBerry, conformed to the regulatory authority's concerns.

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"RIM cannot discuss the details of confidential regulatory matters that occur in specific countries, but RIM confirms that it continues to approach lawful access matters internationally within the framework of core principles that were publicly communicated by RIM on August 12," the company said in a statement.

In August, the UAE threatened to block access to e-mail, web browsing and text messages on the popular smartphone if Research In Motion didn't provide government access for security investigations.

The BlackBerry is the dominant smartphone in the UAE, where the capital, Abu Dhabi, and the emirate of Dubai are major business hubs of the Middle East.

The threatened ban would have affected more than a half-million BlackBerry users in the country, as well as visitors to Dubai and the rest of the emirates.

For consumers, the UAE controversy represents a growing battle between digital companies and governments over data security.

While companies like BlackBerry want to ensure their users' privacy, governments increasingly want access for security reasons.

BlackBerry messages are encrypted to keep them from being deciphered by anyone who might intercept them. Other companies, like Google, have added encryption -- in Google's case, after some private data was compromised, setting off a public spat with China's government.

Operating systems such as the iPhone's and Google's Android often store information "in the clouds," meaning over the internet, while BlackBerry sends data to its own offshore servers, said Tim Beyers, a senior technology analyst for The Motley Fool, a financial services company. However, virtually all smartphone systems geared toward corporate clients are encrypted, he noted.

While various companies have agreed to offer "back doors" for governments when they're investigating potential security threats, BlackBerry's stock in trade has been privacy.

"RIM has been known as the very buttoned-down, corporate smartphone supplier," Beyers said in August. "Security is the No. 1 reason that perception has remained. That is their competitive advantage and anything that dilutes that story dilutes their corporate advantage and makes it harder for Research in Motion to grow."

CNN's Amir Ahmed contributed to this report

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