61% think website controls too strict

Arabian Business poll results call for access to more websites to be unblocked by Gulf governments.

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By  Andy Sambidge Published  August 3, 2008

More than 60 percent of people believe government controls on website accessibility in the Gulf region go too far, according to the results of an Arabian Business poll.

Sixty-one percent of respondents called the restrictions "unreasonable" and said they thought they should be able to view what they liked on the internet from the privacy of their own homes.

The online poll on Saturday followed news that Etisalat and Du will be asked to unblock access to more than 1,000 websites that UAE censors had deemed offensive. Many thousands of websites remain out of bounds across the Gulf region because of content that governments disapprove of.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is instructing web service providers to unblock the sites as part of its new internet access management policy.

The new policy will require the government-controlled internet provider duopoly of Etisalat and Du to unblock the sites before August 29.

Our poll also revealed that 18 percent of people thought restrictions should only apply to children surfing the internet.

Only nine percent of respondents believed the current level of restrictions was sensible, saying they could understand why they existed.

A further 12 percent called on government officials to increase the number of access restrictions, believing there were still too many on the web that should be blocked.

3754 days ago

To people who want to know what they want to know, the internet is not blocked. Most users know about vpn services that allow unrestricted access, so for all practical reasons, the internet is not blocked.. Just like the DRM on iTunes, EMI removed it because there is no point in having restrictions, if the technology out there allows freedom. People are attracted towards a free society. The restrictions are only temporary.

3761 days ago

So when the new censorship policy came into effect, many sites were blocked simply due to a knee-jerk reaction and not much thought went into it. Its good that its being given a re-think at last. The million-dirham question though is - What about VoIP? Will Skype continue to be blocked? How am I offending Islam or Muslims anywhere in the world - not just the UAE - by calling home for cheaper rates than being offered by du or Etisalat? How are the cultural values of this country or region being affected by this? The TRA just needs to be up front and say "well its banned so that the incumbent telecoms companies can continue to make profits, so live with it". They can stop with the noble cause of "preserving their moral values"... coz that just insults everybody's intelligence.

3761 days ago
James Meeke

While I at least partially understand the blocking of some sights, such as those of a pornographic nature. I fail to see why, given the recent increases in journalistic freedom, why any site that criticizes the way that the UAE is run is blocked. This significantly blocks societies progress. www.uaeprison.com for example remains blocked. As does any site that shows anything more than a passing interest in the Abu Dhabi royal families involvement in the BCCI debacle of the early 90's. There are numerous other issues, that if explored on a website are blocked, but I will not list them all here.... as last time I did that with a comment to a local paper, my comments were blocked!!

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