Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

U.A.E. Opens VPNs to Banks (But Not Netflix)

  • Telecommunication regulator okays VPNs for business use
  • UAE keeps ban on use of VPN ‘with intent to commit crime’

Companies and banks based in the United Arab Emirates can use virtual private networks to access internal systems as long as they aren’t misused, the country’s regulator said.

The announcement from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority aimed to calm companies and banks amid reports that virtual private networks (VPN) had been banned. Rather, a recent amendment to the law only tightened the penalty on violations linked to a “fraudulent act and the intent to commit a crime or prevent its discovery,” the regulator said.

The regulator stressed that businesses are allowed to use VPNs to allow remote access. 

VPNs can create an encrypted connection over a less secure network. The UAE bars their use for services such as internet call provider Viber or to access prohibited content such as that offered by Netflix, said Sarah Shabayek, telecommunication analyst at Egypt-based CI Capital.

“VPNs are the backbone of virtual connectivity and the main driver behind cloud computing and cloud services, which will drive revenue for telecommunication operators going forward,” Shabayek said.

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