What is Internet censorship?
Before talking about Internet censorship in UAE let’s clarify what Internet censorship is?
According to Wikipedia,
Internet censorship is the control or suppression of what can be accessed, published, or viewed on the Internet. It may be carried out by governments or by private organizations at the behest of government, regulators, or on their own initiative. Individuals and organizations may engage in self-censorship for moral, religious, or business reasons, to conform to societal norms, due to intimidation, or out of fear of legal or other consequences.
In others words, this means that somebody decides what you can read and watch in the net and what you cannot access.
From my personal point of view, this is the limitation of freedom – freedom of reading, freedom of speech, freedom of getting the information you need.
Internet censorship is the limitation of our freedom.
This is a violation of one of the basic human rights – freedom of information.
Why people from Australia can access some websites but people from UAE cannot?
What if I am a voyager?
And I used to start my morning by surfing some of my favorite sites?
I cannot do this is UAE? Why?
And there are lots of such questions about this problem.
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UAE is among Internet enemies
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) include United Arab Emirates in the list of Internet enemies that means that UAE is one of the countries with the most severe and strict on-line filtering and monitoring.
Myth 1 about Internet censorship in UAE
“My Dubai’s Internet provider blocks my favorite Internet websites.“
1. Telecom companies in UAE (Etisalat and Du) are responsible for Internet filters in Dubai, Abi Dhabi and others emirates.
This is NOT TRUE
Internet in the United Arab Emirates is controlled and supervised by Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) not any of Internet service provides (ISP).
This organization was established in 2003 under UAE Federal Law and it is responsible for Internet filtering in UAE.
The main categories of prohibited content in UAE
- Internet Content that violates the ethics and morals of the UAE including Nudity and Dating.
- Internet sites that have material which expresses hate for religions.
- Websites that are not in line with UAE Laws.
- Sites that allow or assist users to access Blocked Content.
- Internet Content that directly or indirectly constitutes a risk on UAE internet users such as Phishing websites, Hacking tools & Spywares.
- Gambling websites
- Sites containing any information about purchasing, manufacturing, promoting and using illegal drugs.
Myth #2 About Internet Censorship in UAE
2. It is impossible to open any blocked site
IT IS NOT TRUE
Despite severe Internet restrictions in UAE, there are various methods to avoid Internet restrictions, such as:
– Proxy sites
– Google cache
– VPN Services, like Sahrzad or Aeroshield
– Translation services
There different ways to open blocked sites.
Myth #3 About Internet Censorship in UAE
3. Skype is blocked in UAE
According to TRA there is not ban on Skype in UAE however VoIP through Skype still unauthorized in UAE.
So it is hard to say if this myth is true or not.
Some people can use Skype in UAE while others cannot.
Myth #4 About Internet Censorship in UAE
4. You can use Viber in UAE
The same thing that with Skype. Generally speaking, Viber is blocked in UAE as the others VoIP services.
Myth #5 About Internet Censorship in UAE
5. You can write what you want on your blogs and social networking pages even from UAE
It is strange to realize that this is not true.
You don’t have absolute freedom of speech in the United Arab Emirates.
As you read before there are several categories of prohibited topics, such as gambling, adult, against religious topics and others which you cannot discuss.
Myth #6 About Internet Censorship in UAE
6. Nothing bad will happen if authorities find out that you are spreading prohibited info on the Internet.
And it is not worth to try. Of course, all depends on the violation – if it is serious.
If it is in political or conflict/security areas you can even be arrested. So it is better to avoid such thing if you are using the insecure Internet connection and do not mask your IP address.
Myth #7 About Internet Censorship in UAE
7. It is not safe to use VPN
Well, VPN connection is absolutely safe and secure. All the traffic sent via VPN is encrypted and nobody can check what you are doing on-line under the VPN connection.
Also, VPN masks real IP address and makes it impossible to track.
BUT! Many VPN service providers keep log files and if you are doing something illegal they can easily find out this.
Also, they will provide your real IP if police ask…
So VPN is not the way for some seriously illegal actions.
Myth #8 About Internet Censorship in UAE
8. It is dangerous to use VPN in public wi-fi
VPN is a great tool for keeping your privacy and security in public wi-fi zones.
It let to protect personal and business data from being intercepted.
VPN makes your wi-fi connection secure and safe.
So of course, it is better to use vpn in Public wi-fi.
Myth #9 About Internet Censorship in UAE
9. You can be caught even if you are using vpn
YES and NO
It depends on your vpn service provider. Some of that keep log fines others – not.
Some of that will keep your info private, others will not.
To summarize all above I must say that Internet censorship in UAE exists and it serious. However, there are some ways that might help to avoid on-line restrictions and access blocked sites.
It is all up to you to decide if you will use these methods or not.