UAE could elevate ban on WhatsApp calls: head of cybersecurity authority
Chatting with CNBC’s “Capital Connection,” on Tuesday, Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, government director of the UAE’s Nationwide Digital Safety Authority, stated the UAE had elevated its collaborations with huge tech platforms — notably Automobilnews-owned WhatsApp — on nationwide safety initiatives.
“The collaboration with WhatsApp has really elevated, and in a lot of these (tasks) we noticed an excellent understanding (from them) of the idea now we have,” he stated, referring to the Gulf nation’s method to telecoms regulation.
“There is perhaps a elevate of that ban for (WhatsApp) voice calls… and that is going to occur quickly, that is what we all know and perceive from the telecommunication authority right here within the UAE.”
Encryption and the UAE’s “regulatory framework” have beforehand been cited as among the causes behind the ban. The blocks additionally profit the home telecoms sector, which is monopolized by state-controlled companies, as residents are pressured to pay excessive costs for telephone calls as a substitute of constructing them at no cost through an web connection.
Different Gulf nations have softened their stance on VoIP suppliers in recent times. Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on WhatsApp calls in 2017, whereas Qatar now permits the usage of VoIP providers by means of licensed telecoms operators.
Stories emerged final yr that Microsoft and Apple have been in talks with the UAE’s authorities about lifting the ban on Skype and FaceTime. Nonetheless, their video and audio calling providers are nonetheless blocked.
In August, another VoIP service, Yzer, grew to become obtainable within the Gulf nation, in keeping with native information outlet Gulf Enterprise. The UAE additionally permits regionally licensed VoIP apps Botim, C’Me and HiU Messenger for use.
Al Kuwaiti acknowledged that enabling extra connectivity within the nation meant tackling a “complete ecosystem,” suggesting that it could doubtlessly name for the federal government to rethink how tech entry is balanced with nationwide safety.
A spokesperson for the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority was not instantly obtainable for remark when contacted by CNBC.
— CNBC’s Natasha Turak contributed to this text.