YouTube block remains

The popular online video sharing website YouTube.com will remain blocked in the UAE, the internet arm of Etisalat confirmed today. Despite complaints from internet users about this blocking, eCompany claims the way in which YouTube’s content is categorised makes it impossible for access to any part of the site to be allowed.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  August 17, 2006

The popular online video sharing website YouTube.com will remain blocked in the UAE, the internet arm of Etisalat confirmed today. Despite complaints from internet users about this blocking, eCompany claims the way in which YouTube’s content is categorised makes it impossible for access to any part of the site to be allowed. The YouTube website, located at www.youtube.com, allows users to upload home movie, TV and other video format clips, and was blocked by eCompany at the end of last month due to its featuring inappropriate content. Saoud Al Shamsi, acting assistant GM of eCompany, today explained the block in full to Windows Middle East: “The website was blocked by Etisalat on instructions from the authorities because of the presence of adult content on the website which is clearly against the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the UAE.” Al Shamsi said eCompany had received feedback about this move from members of the public, both in public forums (such as the forum section of newspaper 7Days’ website for one) and in the form of calls to its contact centre. However, until YouTube is able to categorise its content into clear categories that eCompany can then work around by allowing access to some sections of the website and blocking others, the site’s ban will remain. “It is up to the website administrators to ensure proper categorisation of content on the website to distinguish adult content from regular content in order to control abuse. This could potentially enable the blocking of the adult content and the unblocking of the rest of the website,” Al Shamsi explained. “The decision to block websites is clearly based on whether they follow the guidelines based upon norms laid down by local authorities,” Al Shamsi added. “If a website’s content violates these norms, then it will not be unblocked. However, if the offending content can be singled out and blocked without impinging on the value of the rest of the content found on the site then the website could well be unblocked.” YouTube’s blocking is just the latest to draw criticism of Etisalat’s web filtering policy from UAE-based expat surfers, with the blocking of MySpace.com and photo-sharing site Flickr.com also having angered users in recent months. If users want to question a site’s blocking with eCompany, they can either visit www.etisalat.ae and click Contact Us/Feedback, or alternatively they should call the company’s contact centre on freephone 800 6100. “Based on this input,” Al Shamsi told Windows, “we will promptly investigate the concern and unblock a site if it has been inadvertently blocked and does not fall under the restricted guidelines of the proxy.”

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