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Etisalat makes internet U-turn

The UAE’s incumbent telco Etisalat has reversed its position on the blocking of various popular websites - including YouTube.com, online community myspace.com, social networking site hi5.com and photo sharing resource flickr.com - by unblocking these sites in the UAE.

This move comes just weeks after Etisalat told Windows Middle East that YouTube’s content made it impossible for access to any part of the site to be allowed. In August, Windows Middle East asked Etisalat for the reason behind its then-recent YouTube.com block, to which Saoud Al Shamsi, acting assistant GM of eCompany (Etisalat’s internet arm), responded: “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.” Until YouTube was able to categorise its content into clear categories that eCompany could then work around by allowing access to some sections of the website and blocking others, Al Shamsi added, the site’s ban would 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 (see the full story here. Consumer VoIP sites such as skype.com and net2phone.com remain blocked. If users want to question a blocked website with eCompany, they can either visit www.etisalat.ae and click Contact Us/Feedback, call the company’s contact centre on UAE freephone 800 6100, or e-mail details direct to help@emirates.net.ae).

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