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KSA rules out BlackBerry ban

Saudi Arabia’s telecoms watchdog has ruled out banning the controversial messenger service, BlackBerry messenger.

May 22, 2010 3:14 by

Saudi Arabia’s telecommunications watchdog has ruled out banning the controversial messenger service from BlackBerry.

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said there was no reason to do so if only a minority had misused the facility.

“We look at the needs of society as well as the regulatory aspects of the BlackBerry service in a balanced manner. The organizational framework does not permit anyone to exploit the service. Therefore, there is no need for stopping the service,” said deputy governor of CITC for legal matters Daifallah Al-Zahrani.

He was addressing participants of a workshop on cyber crime organized by the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Dammam on Thursday.

There were rumors BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) would be banned in the Kingdom following reports that CITC had asked the device’s Canadian manufacturer Research in Motion to allow the regulator to be able to monitor messages sent via the service.

Al-Zahrani said ordinary courts would continue to look into cyber crimes while CITC would offer technical support, ruling out the establishment of special courts to handle such offences.

“CITC has been coordinating with the concerned authorities that deal with cyber crimes,” he said.

“New electronic systems enable CITC to discover details of cyber criminal activity and to pass that information to concerned authorities so they can take action.”

Al-Zahrani said when victims of cyber crime complained to crime control departments, investigations were conducted with the help of CITC. The case is then handed over to the Prosecution and Investigations Board.

“The first cyber case was examined and a verdict issued by a court in Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province and many similar cases then followed,” he said.

He said the availability of unlicensed electronic services and devices in local markets was unlawful.

“The presence of a device in the market does not mean that it is permitted. CITC will coordinate with the Ministry of Municipality and Rural Affairs to check shops that sell illegal services and products and punish them. There are CITC inspection teams to check devices and services that are available in markets in the Kingdom,” he added.

Deputy governor of CITC for the information technology sector Suleiman Mirdad said in his address that some people indiscreetly published their personal details on the Internet and were easy victims of cyber crimes.

“There are people who publish their private photos and information and other details on websites such as Facebook to be seen by all. Sometimes, such details may be used against them,” he said.

He said an average of about 2,000 requests were made daily to block obscene websites. The complaints came mainly from students, he added.

He said the commission was determined to deal with Saudi hackers in such a way their talent would be eventually be utilized in a positive manner. He added that Saudi talents in the field of information technology should be honored.

Arab News

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