Blocking Parts of YouTube May be Difficult, Says TRA

Martin Croucher
Filed on March 13, 2009

DUBAI - Efforts to block parts of YouTube may be difficult because thousands of new videos are uploaded everyday, an IT expert
has warned.

Moreover, officials only have the power to block one video at a time, said Fadi Aloul, assistant professorof Computer Engineeringat the American University of Sharjah.

“There are thousandsof videos uploaded everyday,” he said. “There’s no way they can keep track of every video.

“They might find it easier to block the whole thing. But it is a very popular web site. While there may be some offensive things on there, there are also some very useful things.”

On Sunday, Lt-Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, called on the Telecommunications Regulatory Authorityto block YouTube on the grounds it violatedreligious sensitivities.

However, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority issued a statement on Wednesday saying they had receivedno request to block the entire site.

“As for YouTube, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has instructed to block part of its content that breaches the prohibited content categories of (our) policy,” a spokesman for TRA said.

“However, there areclear and specific procedures to that and both ISPs (Internet service providers) are compliant to these procedures.”

The TRA states that web sites that promote pornography, gambling and illegal drugs should be banned in the UAE - aswell as web sites that defame Islam. An investigation by Khaleej Times found that the anti-Islamic film, ‘Fitna’, by Dutch politician Geert Wilders was available onthe site. Moreover, controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) were also available.

Some mildly pornographic material within YouTube’s guidelines was blockedby ISPs but the majority that was tested could stillbe accessed.

Neither Etisalat nor du could be reached for a comment on Wednesday.


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