Link to show why a web site is blocked

DUBAI - All Internet service providers (ISPs) in the country will have to create a link on the web page, which shows that a particular site is blocked, explaining why it is blocked, the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, said on Tuesday.

By Asma Ali Zain And Anwar Ahmed

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Published: Thu 7 Aug 2008, 1:45 AM

Last updated: Mon 12 Jun 2023, 4:02 PM

The link should explain and list categories that may fall under the prohibited groups, as well as provide relevant instructions and guidelines on such matters issued by the TRA.

The TRA announced earlier this week that at least 1,000 sites, currently blocked for containing material that is not compatible with the UAE's telecom laws, will be accessible by the end of the month.

As part of its Internet Access Management (IAM) regulatory policy, the TRA also says that it wants the ISPs, including Etisalat and du, to aptly implement the frameworks and categories stipulated in the policy so as to ensure Internet security and protect the interests of users

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the TRA said, "All licensed ISPs in the country have the responsibility of withholding access to prohibited sites and must consider creating a link that will consist of documents to explain the prohibited content categories as well as the relevant instructions and guidance issued by the TRA. The ISPs must review all the complaints and remarks raised by the users on the particular site."

However, Etisalat and du said they are unaware of the new policy. They also said the TRA is yet to provide the list of sites that have to be unblocked by the end of the month.

Advising users, the TRA suggests that they inform their ISPs about their observations on a particular site they think should be unblocked. However, ISPs must consider alerting the TRA before a final decision is issued.

"If the information and materials available on such web sites do not fall under any of the prohibited content categories, the TRA will ask the ISPs to lift the block," reads the statement. Entities that consider that their sites are commensurate with the nature of their work are required to send an application to their ISP, it adds.

In a statement to Khaleej Times, the authority said, "The cyber crimes that are on the rise in the country are phishing, defacement of web sites, spam mails, email abuse, malware infection through peer-to-peer networks and emails, as well as the use of legitimate web sites to distribute malicious code to their visitors."

According to experts, several sites (such as medical sites) are blocked as they may contain a word or letter that falls under the prohibited categories which may include sex, terrorism or an anti-religious sentiment. However, users say that several social networking sites such as Orkut, and many more are unnecessarily blocked.

Mixed reactions to unblocking sites

MOST of the residents expressed delight that they will be able to access many sites to enhance their knowledge. However, some expressed their fear about effects on children if X-rated contents are unblocked.

Mohamed Yaser, a technician in Abu Dhabi, said, "If the pornographic sites are going to be unblocked, I deeply condemn the decision of the TRA as it will spoil the youngsters. Many web sites which spread provocative and unjust remarks regarding the Islamic jurisprudence and its practices must be unblocked so that we can correct their misunderstandings about Islam. They misquote Islam and feel happy that they are right because nobody can respond to them. So, I welcome the decision if such sites are unblocked." Sree Nath, an accountant, said, "Most of the time when we try to access some web sites for medical education purposes, the "Site blocked" info appears. A number of web sites are blocked without any having X-rated material. For instance, Orkut is blocked, it might be opened. But I don't support unblocking sites having pornographic contents as they influence the children badly."

Mustafa Hasan Kanaan, Abu Dhabi government employee, said, "Children are left alone at home sometimes. They need to be monitored while accessing the Internet. Pornographic contents must remain blocked as many students and children access them. But some religious sites should be unblocked which give varied views from different corners of the world.”

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