Mysterious firm offers “extra help” with blocked sites

An Asian organisation operating under the brand 'HeyU' is offering internet users in the UAE what it terms “a little extra help” accessing blocked websites such as Skype.com, whilst claiming that a British firm is working with the UAE authorities to completely block VoIP traffic.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  August 27, 2006

An Asian organisation operating under the brand 'HeyU' is offering internet users in the UAE what it terms “a little extra help” accessing blocked websites such as Skype.com, whilst claiming that a British firm is working with the UAE authorities to completely block VoIP traffic. The Asian group’s offer – detailed in full on the ‘wiki’ page of the Mathaba News Network’s website (here) - takes the form of three paid-for ‘HeyU’ solutions; these are effectively ways in which consumers can get around the UAE’s Skype website block (and any other site blocks), download Skype software and buy Skype calling credit. A statement by a HeyU spokesperson on the same page also rails against the UAE's policy of blocking websites, as well as condemning an unnamed British firm, which he states is working to block VoIP traffic in the Emirates. HeyU’s three solutions comprise: - ‘HeyU Option 1’. This is targeted at internet users who don’t already have Skype software (or the latest version) on their computers and costs 20 Euros (US $25). This allows a user to download Skype via a non-blocked download link, which in turns lets them enjoy PC to PC calling. - Option 2 costs 30 Euros ($38). With this option, the user is sent a secure website address, along with a special username and password, which they can then use for three months, both to visit Skype.com and any other blocked websites. (This access to Skype.com also means that a user can purchase ‘SkypeOut’ calling credit and thereafter call landline phones around the world from their internet-connected computer.) - Finally, ‘HeyU Option 3’ is priced 50 Euros ($64) and includes all the elements of option 1 and 2, plus a 20 Euro ‘SkypeOut’ voucher. To sign-up for these packages, users are asked to e-mail details of their location, ISP and Skype user preferences to a secure e-mail address (here). In addition to this HeyU information, the spokesperson's lengthy diatribe on the page, dated August 21, 2006, strongly criticises the policy of banning websites and British foreign policy, before urging the UAE authorities to work with HeyU’s team to reach a compromise arrangement to the benefit of all. Windows Middle East was unable to contact anyone from Mathaba.net or HeyU to clarify which British company HeyU’s representative is referring to in the aforementioned statement. In addition, the UAE's incumbent telco, Etisalat, has so far been unavailable for comment. That said, in January of this year UK-based Bitek International's president and CEO, Graham Butler, told Windows Middle East that his firm was talking to the UAE's regulator (the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) and the incumbent telecoms providers of Qatar and Kuwait about the possibility of them deploying Bitek’s multi-million dollar ‘Guardian’ system. This system monitors an IP network's activity and blocks any activity - such as voice calls - that the system's owner has declared unlawful. “Guardian has 20 or 30 separate signatures or settings, which gives a telco for instance the flexibility to determine exactly what type of usage is allowed,” Butler explained at the time. Read the full story from January here.

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