US BlackBerry comments 'disappointing' - UAE official

US State Department noted that BlackBerry decision was 'setting a dangerous precedent'.
US BlackBerry comments 'disappointing' - UAE official
DANGEROUS PRECEDENT: The United States has expressed its disappointment that the UAE planned to cut off key BlackBerry services. (Getty Images)
By Reuters
Tue 03 Aug 2010 12:59 AM

The United States said it was disappointed that the UAE planned to cut off key BlackBerry services, noting that the Gulf nation was setting a dangerous precedent in limiting freedom of information.

PJ Crowley, spokesman, State Department, said: "We are committed to promoting the free flow of information. We think it's integral to an innovative economy."

The UAE said over the weekend that it would suspend Research In Motion's BlackBerry Messenger, email and Web browser services from Oct 11 until the government could get access to encrypted messages.

Crowley said the United States was seeking additional information from the UAE about its security concerns, but urged the country to allow BlackBerry services to aid the free flow of information.

Crowley said: "It's about what we think is an important element of democracy, human rights and freedom of information and the flow of information in the 21st century," adding that the United States makes the same argument to Iran and China.

He added: "We think it sets a dangerous precedent. You should be opening up societies to these new technologies that have the opportunity to empower people rather than looking to see how you can restrict certain technologies."

Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE Ambassador to the United States, said Crowley's comments were disappointing and contradict the US government's own approach to telecommunication regulation.

Otaiba said: "In fact, the UAE is exercising its sovereign right and is asking for exactly the same regulatory compliance - and with the same principles of judicial and regulatory oversight - that Blackberry grants the US and other governments and nothing more."

He said: "Importantly, the UAE requires the same compliance as the US for the very same reasons: to protect national security and to assist in law enforcement."

He added: "It is regrettable that after several years of discussions, BlackBerry is still not compliant with UAE regulatory requirements even as it complies with similar policies in other countries." (Reuters)

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