UAE 'pervasively' censors content online

New global report by OpenNet Initiative criticizes the country for unnecessarily over-blocking content

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By  Vineetha Menon Published  October 6, 2008

The United Arab Emirates has been identified as one of the countries that extensively filters content online in a global survey by the OpenNet Initiative.

The UAE not only blocks content that is religiously, culturally and socially inappropriate, but also filters political content. The report pointed out that internet users in the country were also prevented from legitimately using privacy and anonymizing tools and online translation services as they could be used to bypass filtering systems.

The software SmartFilter, from the US-based firm Secure Computing, is used to filter content from specified categories outside the free zones in the UAE.

According to the report, the UAE does not just “...extensively block targeted content but they also unnecessarily overblock unrelated content. For instance, Iran and the United Arab Emirates block entirely because they have deemed some of the photographs posted on the site objectionable.”

The country was given a rank of ‘low’ for its consistency in filtering content.

Based on the global survey, 25 out of 40 countries were found to prohibit access to certain content online. 11 out of those 25 countries are from the Middle East and North Africa region - Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen.

Interestingly, broadband internet access is growing faster in the MEA region than any other region in the world.

3755 days ago

etisalat blocks any and everything they can and this has caused to completely change the meaning of privacy. What is someones data is highly confidential and he uses VPN or any encryption to bypass block etc then why does Etisalat need to sniff that and check for content which needs to be blocked or no, haven't they heard of something called privacy. One more thing, what use is all the internet speed they provide through broadband when you can do anything when half of the world is blocked by them. I guess they just changed the usage of broadband, for them broadband is simply to check mails and surf the web which u can even do through dialup

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