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Thu 7 Nov 2019 08:58 AM

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UAE could lift WhatsApp call ban, says top cybersecurity chief

Mohamed Al Kuwaiti revealed discussions have taken place with Facebook-owned WhatsApp

UAE could lift WhatsApp call ban, says top cybersecurity chief

Voice over Internet Protocol Services, such as Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp, are currently illegal in the UAE, although it is perfectly fine to use the messaging platforms associated with them.

The ban on WhatsApp calls in the UAE could soon be lifted, according to the executive director of the country’s National Electronic Security Authority, Mohamed Al Kuwaiti.

Al Kuwaiti was speaking on American news channel CNBC and revealed that discussions had taken place with Facebook-owned WhatsApp on national security initiatives.

He told the ‘Capital Connection’ show: “The collaboration with WhatsApp has actually increased, and in many of those (projects) we saw a very good understanding (from them) of the concept we have,” he said, referring to the Gulf country’s approach to telecoms regulation.

“There might be a lift of that ban for (WhatsApp) voice calls… and this is going to happen soon, this is what we know and understand from the telecommunication authority here in the UAE.”

Voice over Internet Protocol Services, such as Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp, are currently illegal in the UAE, although it is perfectly fine to use the messaging platforms associated with them.

Cloud-based messaging app Yzer was launched in the UAE in August, offering voice and video calls, texts and group chats. People in the UAE can also use Botim, C’Me and HiU Messenger.

In April last year, Arabic daily Al Ittihad reported that UAE telecoms regulators were in talks with Microsoft and Apple to potentially lift the ban on Skype and FaceTime.

Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on WhatsApp calls in 2017.

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