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Bahrain TRA's war on Internet piracy

Manama, August 20, 2009

Bahrain's telecom watchdog has declared war on Internet piracy, vowing to ensure intellectual property rights were respected by all the country's users.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced it was preparing to work closely with the Culture and Information Ministry after several international companies expressed concern over their intellectual property being illegally shared by users in Bahrain.

TRA chairman Dr Mohammed Al Amer told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News that intellectual property rights were an important part of Bahraini law and the TRA was preparing to step up action against those who flout the regulations.

'Bahrain has a policy which regulates and rules intellectual property in the kingdom and that is vital to maintain healthy business relations in Bahrain,' he said.

'There are a number of companies - although revealing them is not appropriate at this time as it may be premature - that have voiced concern but we are currently awaiting further information.

'We have been given these orders and regulations by the ministry and this is content related, so if there are further infringements, we are going to act to ensure that operators implement our instructions.'

TRA general director Alan Horne explained that as part of Bahrain's Vision 2030, the watchdog was hoping to introduce high-speed Internet connections to every home in Bahrain.

He stressed, however, that the TRA also had a duty to ensure that the information superhighway was correctly policed and regulated in the process.

'If we want to put a highway into people's homes, then we need to do it right,' he admitted.

'We are concerned that if we succeed in giving every household broadband Internet, then we need to ensure that there is policing of intellectual property and that the tools are in place to protect the country against criminal activities.'

As part of this, Horne revealed that the TRA had appointed a former head of British Telecom's Internet security department in an advisory role in security issues, who would be starting next month.

'We have taken this move because we recognise the importance of safeguarding the Internet and many aspects to do with content - over the next year, we will be addressing many issues dealing with intellectual property rights and international best practice.'

The TRA officials were speaking at the unveiling of the watchdog's 2008 annual report during a Press conference held at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa.

The 42-page document included the TRA's achievements during the last year as well as identifying areas which it felt it could improve.

Amongst its achievements, the TRA highlighted the fact that Bahrain became the first country in the world to have two nationwide WiMax providers.

It also hailed the conclusion of the country's mobile auction for a third mobile telecommunications provider in Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC), which raised $240 million (BD90 million) for Bahrain.

Horne added that the TRA had also focused on further liberalising the telecommunications market and admitted that although it had a long way to go, he was pleased with the progress that the watchdog had made.

'The TRA is well down the road in ensuring the right regulatory measures are in place to boost further competition in the sector and maximise the benefits to consumers and the kingdom's economy over the coming years,' he said.

'We are currently working on providing other licensees access to Batelco's copper network reaching consumers' premises to ensure availability of choice to consumer over the existing fixed network.

'STC is working on deploying its network to be able to launch by the end of the year or early 2010 and number portability will be avai

Tags: Bahrain | Piracy | Telecommunications Regulatory Authority | Internet | IT |

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