Friday, June 18, 2010

Thousands using 'illegal' Skype on mobile in UAE - paper

SKYPE BAN: The UAE is one of only four countries that do not allow  Skype software to be downloaded. (Getty Images)

Thousands of Apple iPhone users in the UAE are flouting the country’s law by using the popular free-calling software Skype, according to a report.

According to the Abu Dhabi-based The National daily, many iPhone users are breaking the law as the country’s telecoms regulator has banned Skype for Apple’s hand-held devices.

Though the Skype application is freely available on Apple’s iTunes store in the UAE and will work on iPhones connected to Etisalat or du services, the ban issued in 2006 by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) still remains in place, The National said,

According to the daily, the TRA has said: “If a third party application, such as Skype, is available for download from iTunes or any other website, it does not mean that it’s legal to use. Furthermore, the licensees have the right to block the illegal traffic of the application.”

Rouzbeh Pasha, the head of Skype for the Middle East and Africa, told The National that the only way the iPhone application would not be available in the UAE was if the regulator said no one in the country could have access to the iTunes store.

“As long as the App Store is available, Skype and other applications will be there as well,” Mr Pasha said. “This is part of the [Skype’s] ecosystem. Soon you’ll have Panasonic and Sony television sets that will have Skype built in.”

The UAE is one of only four countries that do not allow Skype software to be downloaded and block access to the company’s website. North Korea, Oman and Kuwait are the others, according to The National.