Apple in talks to get FaceTime ban lifted in United Arab Emirates

Posted:
in iPhone
Apple and Microsoft are talking with the U.A.E. government in bids to remove years-long bans on FaceTime and Skype, respectively.

Apple's Dubai Mall store.
Apple's Dubai Mall store.


The efforts were confirmed by the director general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, according to local reports cited by CNBC. The U.A.E. monitors communications as a way of controlling dissent and terrorism, and the use of encryption in VoIP platforms like FaceTime makes that harder or impossible.

Some people are nevertheless able to access them via virtual private networks, or VPNs. FaceTime isn't available on iPhones sold in the U.A.E., but can still work if the device was bought elsewhere.

FaceTime is also banned in some other Middle Eastern countries like Qatar, typically for the same reasons. Saudi Arabia however removed a ban in September.

The U.A.E. market is a relatively small one for Apple, but not insignificant in part because of the vast wealth at the top of Emirati society and the number of foreigners residing or passing through. Apple has two stores in Dubai -- one at the Dubai Mall, the other at the Mall of the Emirates -- and a third in Abu Dhabi.

Operating in countries with censorship and mass surveillance has sometimes proven controversial for Apple, which has been accused of putting its business ahead of human rights. The locus of criticism has usually been China, where Apple has willingly complied with demands to pull titles from the App Store, and brought its local iCloud data within government reach.

CEO Tim Cook has defended his involvement in state-sponsored Chinese conferences by claiming that participation will lead to change.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    simply258simply258 Posts: 81member
    FaceTime isn't available on iPhones sold in the U.A.E., but can still work if the device was bought elsewhere.
    False. As soon as you connect to a network that blocks FaceTime, the FaceTime app is hidden.
    racerhomie3
  • Reply 2 of 13
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,266member
    Just rebrand it as EyeTime.
  • Reply 3 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,367member
    Just rebrand it as EyeTime.
    I assume you’re making a joke, but I think about 30% of Americans would read the headline and think it has to do with women covering their face, not encrypted communication that the govt. can’t track.

    That said, with Face ID tech it’s definitely possibly for an iPhone X to only send modestly appropriate data, per ther user/app’s choosing and/or apply a local, real-time filter to the other parts of the body whilst keeping the eyes, hands, background unfiltered for the receiver.
    edited May 2
  • Reply 4 of 13
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 530member
    Sadly Apple does not have stores with servicing  in India(due to 30% local sourcing) ,Bangladesh (I don’t know why) & Pakistan (I also don’t know why)
    edited May 2
  • Reply 5 of 13
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,097member
    I'm a little confused by this.  Banning FaceTime due to its use of encryption?  What about standard voice communications?  Aren't phone conversation encrypted as well?  What about iMessage, WhatsApp, etc..

    Why is FaceTime so unique?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,698administrator
    Keep it civil. Re-read the commenting guidelines.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,367member
    sflocal said:
    I'm a little confused by this.  Banning FaceTime due to its use of encryption?  What about standard voice communications?  Aren't phone conversation encrypted as well?  What about iMessage, WhatsApp, etc..

    Why is FaceTime so unique?
    It's not so much that it's encrypted, it's that they gov't can't get access to the data. You may remember Blackberry nee RiM finally giving India access to some of their data.

    edited May 2 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,097member
    Soli said:
    sflocal said:
    I'm a little confused by this.  Banning FaceTime due to its use of encryption?  What about standard voice communications?  Aren't phone conversation encrypted as well?  What about iMessage, WhatsApp, etc..

    Why is FaceTime so unique?
    It's not so much that it's encrypted, it's that they gov't can't get access to the data. You may remember Blackberry nee RiM finally giving India access some of their data.

    Yes, I recall the Blackberry/UAE debacle.  Does the UAE ban text messaging apps and voip?  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,367member
    sflocal said:
    Soli said:
    sflocal said:
    I'm a little confused by this.  Banning FaceTime due to its use of encryption?  What about standard voice communications?  Aren't phone conversation encrypted as well?  What about iMessage, WhatsApp, etc..

    Why is FaceTime so unique?
    It's not so much that it's encrypted, it's that they gov't can't get access to the data. You may remember Blackberry nee RiM finally giving India access some of their data.

    Yes, I recall the Blackberry/UAE debacle.  Does the UAE ban text messaging apps and voip?  
    No idea, but if they don't then I would assume they potentially have legal access to the data when it's used.
    jbdragon
  • Reply 10 of 13
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,434member
    Interesting but the sad reality is that governments want access to your device.   I would not be surprised to see the DOJ going after these services in the USA soon after they get a mandatory backdoor into your device.    Unfortunately Apple is not fighting an aggressive enough war here to get the public on their side.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 11 of 13
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 1,899member
    sflocal said:
    Soli said:
    sflocal said:
    I'm a little confused by this.  Banning FaceTime due to its use of encryption?  What about standard voice communications?  Aren't phone conversation encrypted as well?  What about iMessage, WhatsApp, etc..

    Why is FaceTime so unique?
    It's not so much that it's encrypted, it's that they gov't can't get access to the data. You may remember Blackberry nee RiM finally giving India access some of their data.

    Yes, I recall the Blackberry/UAE debacle.  Does the UAE ban text messaging apps and voip?  
    I communicate with a friend that lives there via Whatsapp. Text message apps aren't banned but the call feature won't work unless you are using a VPN. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 13
    urashidurashid Posts: 41member
    sflocal said:
    Soli said:
    sflocal said:
    I'm a little confused by this.  Banning FaceTime due to its use of encryption?  What about standard voice communications?  Aren't phone conversation encrypted as well?  What about iMessage, WhatsApp, etc..

    Why is FaceTime so unique?
    It's not so much that it's encrypted, it's that they gov't can't get access to the data. You may remember Blackberry nee RiM finally giving India access some of their data.

    Yes, I recall the Blackberry/UAE debacle.  Does the UAE ban text messaging apps and voip?  
    I communicate with a friend that lives there via Whatsapp. Text message apps aren't banned but the call feature won't work unless you are using a VPN. 
    Everytime I connect via Dubai International, I have always been able to use WhatsApp for audio calls and text messages.  And this is while connected to either the airport Wi-Fi or the roaming carrier partner.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 13
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 313member
    simply258 said:
    FaceTime isn't available on iPhones sold in the U.A.E., but can still work if the device was bought elsewhere.
    False. As soon as you connect to a network that blocks FaceTime, the FaceTime app is hidden.
    What if you disable cell data, does it work over WiFi?  Obviously the app isn't going to be hidden on a Mac.
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