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BlackBerry fate in Kuwait uncertain, authorities "seriously" eyeing suspension -- report

 By Hani Al-Bahrani

KUWAIT, May 28 (KUNA) -- Ever since the BlackBerry technology took the world by storm back in 2002, talk has been going on about its advantages and disadvantages in terms of human social communication and interaction.
With advocates of the device considering it "groundbreaking," other more conventional audiences envisage it as yet another nail in the coffin of tangible human contact. Meanwhile, here in the Middle East region and especially the Arabian Gulf area nowadays, BlackBerry is such a controversial issue, chiefly due to the area's innate traditions and lack of adequate regulation on use of the device, from the point of view of the authorities.
In Kuwait, the Ministry of Interior is eyeing the option of stopping the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service, and a decision to this effect might be issued in the near future, according to a number of local media reports.
These reports said the ministry is considering the ban due to the fact that the service cannot be controlled by the Ministry of Communications or security authorities and hence, users of BlackBerry sets were taking advantage of the situation to spread rumors and call for strikes.
The three telecommunications companies in Kuwait, meanwhile, said they had not received any official request from the Interior Ministry so far relating to the service.
A fresh user of the service, Musaed Al-Mathkour did not think that BBM would be banned, arguing the decision is "too difficult" to implement.
Al-Mathkour told KUNA that in the era of globalization, banning certain services because of public abuse would not solve the problem, as there are, and will be, other alternatives that might have even greater risk for society should they be sought for the wrong reasons.
"It is a double-edged sword; you can use it for good or bad, just like any other device or object. Some BBM users are 'addicted' to it, but with time, all withdrawal symptoms would go away, should the ban take place," he said with a smile.
Au contraire, Wadha Al-Deewli, a veteran user of the service, said she cannot imagine life without "my" BBM, as she told KUNA that the first thing she does after waking up in the morning is to check her Blackberry for any fresh news or even rumors.
Should the ban be imposed, Al-Deewli said that she would be compelled to channel her BBM addiction either back to the regular internet or to other similar technologies.
As of April 9, 2010, the Kingdom of Bahrain imposed a ban on BlackBerry sharing of local news, saying that users needed an official license. The Culture and Information Ministry there said in a statement that the decision was taken to avoid "confusion and chaos." Meanwhile, in the stricter and larger Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has ruled out banning the conflict-ridden messenger service, arguing that there was no reason to do so if only a minority had abused the facility.
In Pakistan, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has also banned the use of all BlackBerry services "until further notice." In addition, some 450 sites including Twitter and other social networks have been banned by the PTA. This is all on the backdrop of the massive Facebook ban due to the 'Everybody Draw Mohammad Day' that caused serious uproar in the Muslim country.
The BlackBerry is a line of mobile e-mail and smart-phone devices developed by Canadian company Research In Motion (RIM). While including typical smart-phone applications, the BlackBerry is primarily known for its ability to send and receive e-mails wherever it can access a mobile network of certain cellular phone carriers. It commands a 20.8-percent share of worldwide smart-phone sales. (end) hb KUNA 280901 May 10NNNN