Tuesday, 26 February 2008

No ban on YouTube in UAE

No ban on YouTube in UAE
By Asma Ali Zain (Our staff reporter) KHALEEJ TIMES 26 February 2008

DUBAI — Internet users can be rest assured that YouTube, an active video sharing web site, will not be completely banned in the UAE as its content is already being regulated by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA).

Users were concerned after Pakistan on Sunday asked its Internet service providers (ISPs) to completely ban the web site until further orders for posting blasphemous material.

A spokesperson for the TRA told Khaleej Times yesterday, “We have given choice to the Internet users in the country and not blocked the web site entirely. Adult content on the web site that is clearly against the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the UAE will automatically be blocked.

“Our ISPs (Etisalat and du) have an understanding with YouTube in this regard. Nearly two years ago, YouTube was blocked in the country. However, the TRA wants to provide flexibility to its subscribers. Therefore, the web site can be accessed in the country though objectionable content will remain blocked,” said the spokesperson.

“Following reports from Pakistan banning the site for blasphemous material, we were concerned that the UAE might follow suit since this is an Islamic country. Thankfully, the site is still accessible. Despite its drawbacks, it remains a rich source of information. It is fair though that the content is monitored and blocked if that is the rule in the country,” said Linda Brehick, a user.

“I think that the web site should be banned completely in the country because even though it is being monitored closely, there are certain objectionable materials that I would not like my children to see. It is practically impossible to monitor your children all the time. If the ban is in place, we can be assured that they will not have access to the site,” said Farida Mohammed.

According to Wikipedia, YouTube is the third most visited web site (as per statistics from Alexa Internet). It has been censored several times in some countries since its launch and it is banned in several countries including Brazil, Iran, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, Thailand and Turkey. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates only block content that is not in line with their policies.

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