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UAE considers lifting ban on WhatsApp calls

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) hinted to soon remove the ban on WhatsApp voice calls.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) currently restricts the usage of many applications of VoIP in the UAE, such as Skype, Tango, Face time and Viber.

In an interview with CNBC, Executive Director of the UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority, Mohammad Al Kuwaiti said the UAE had increased its collaborations with big tech platforms on national security initiatives, especially with the Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

“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 during the programme “Capital Connection”.

“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,” said Al Kuwaiti.

Read more: Activist demand judicial probe into WhatsApp over hacking scandal

Last year, Microsoft confirmed that it was in talks with the TRA to lift the ban on Skype. Skype is part of Microsoft Office 365 and at present, only the text-based chat feature in Skype is available for businesses.

In December 2017, Etisalat and du blocked Skype throughout the country as the app provided unlicensed VoIP services, “which falls under the classification of prohibited contents as per the United Arab Emirates’ Regulatory Framework.”

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