29 October, 2006

I am sick and tired ...

of stumbling upon websites and internet services that are blocked by Etisalat. Yes, today I found that they had blocked www.stumbleupon.com web site and service. This is last year's second most popular web service according to the BBC folks.
Not only do they rip each and every internet user in the country for a service that sucks, they also erected themselves as the guardians of the moral of the people. My personal website has been blocked twice in under six months and it took me tons of forms to have it unblocked again. It now feels like not a single day passes by without me having to face the @#$%^& "Site Blocked" web page, and every single time it is for a completely "innocent" content. ( no I don't gamble and I am not into watching adult stuff). Now they don't even bother to look at the complains I keep sending through that ridiculous web form on the Etisalat web site.
Somebody explain the rationale to me. Who are they protecting and from what?? Adults from Adult graphic stuff? it is available live and for free on almost every street of Dubai. Gambling? it concerns adults and most of them are grown up enough to decide for themselves. VoIP ? that one is clear and settled; Etisalat claimed their exclusive right to rip to death every expat that would dare and try to talk to his family back home. Copyrighted material protection? They don't even know what that really means. Hacking? it is 99.99% harmless content for kids to get excited and learn some stuff. What is it then they are protecting us against? who gave them that mandate anyway? As you must all suspect, they charge you and me for financing those elaborate and expansive "protection tools".
An idea for the Etisalat folks. There is a bunch of software out there, mostly for free, that can be installed on each computer to restrict access to selected content. Why don't they encourage their customers to use it, or even better, provide it to them. Or they could offer two types of access: censored and non censored. Let the parents be parents and the adults be responsible for themselves.

I am pissed. Big time. (I bet it shows..)

We are many. Let's do something about it.


Edit : My appologies for the double post.

27 comments:

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

Why is it so hard to say "ok, I am in a different country, and this is the law, so I must abide by it?"

When I'm in the US, I cannot marry 2 woman (unless I'm in Utah, and even then, it's not legal, just not stopped from happening) and that makes no sense to me, but you know what, I don't bitch about it. It's their laws, and thats that.

They arent "protecting" anyone. Its a matter of identity. and social awareness. They want to block out things that conflict with the UAE's identity... why it's tolerated in real life is because important people like seeing white westerners dressed as whores running around.

Another thing is if you have a bunch of UAE citizens exposed to EVERYTHING, it could (will really) pose a threat to "some" peoples power. and as we should all know, power and greed are very powerful motives.

How much would you people bitch if you lived in Iran and were forced (or jail) to dress islamically? head dress and all? Again, it's their law and you and I may not agree, but we have no right to bitch about it. if I was there and didnt like it, I'd leave. same here, if you dislike it so much, leave.

As you stated, there is free software to remedy the problem. so take your own advice, install Vidalia, run Tor, and be on your way. Its that simple.

Tim Newman said...

We are many. Let's do something about it.

Might I point to the French, Greeks, and Russians for three options to making such a change?

samuraisam said...

"Why is it so hard to say "ok, I am in a different country, and this is the law, so I must abide by it?"

Because this isn't the 'law'; Etisalat blocking stuff like skype and VoIP is profiteering, the rest is just hypocrisy.

"How much would you people bitch if you lived in Iran and were forced (or jail) to dress islamically?"

That's the thing, we don't live in Saudi or Iran, we live in Dubai, soon to house the worlds largest building, palm island and whatever else; who'd ever expect some forward thinking?
Women are allowed to drive here, non-nationals can partly own companies and own property.

"we have no right to bitch about it."

Wrong. If we didn't have the right to bitch Etisalat wouldn't have forms pretending that you could ask for sites to be unblocked.
And further wrong because we're paying for the in-ter-net not half of 3% of the internet, the internet

I don't agree that we 'don't have the right' however I would agree to its futility if that is what you're also trying to say.

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

You are many... and? you control nothing. you have no place in the govt (thank god) no place in the police, no place in the intelligence service, and no place in the armed forces. what can you do? lets be realistic now.

One day there will be a civil war here and you will have 2 choices. leave or die. I wont. I will die trying to beat the other side. That gives me the right to bitch and you not. You are many? hordes of you are deported each day and replacements shipped in. you are an asset, and as most assets can be sold or destroyed.

No, I actually mean you dont have a right to, but it is also futile. and if something is futile, there is no need for it.

You complaining about UAE policies is like a bunch of Mexicans in Arizona bitching about US policy.

Also, I did say you didnt have the right to BITCH. which you were. you have every right to voice an opinion though, I make a distinction between the two.

I, like you dislike censorship, greatly. I use the Tor network almost everyday, I used it forever for myspace till recently. so why dont you just get that? or JAP?

Bitching = gets you nowhere

Software = Gets you where you want.

If you arent a citizen, the government doesnt care.

A country is required to provide a safe place for foreigners, EVERYTHING else a govt does should be for, and only for their citizens.

I wish the UAE would tax foreigners for using our roads, as I paid tolls in the US, or make you guys pay sales tax, as I did in the US.

It is the law. Companies like Etisalat, ADCB, and NBAD (to name a few) are public companies... who's major stock holders is the UAE GOVERNMENT (actually, the Abu-Dhabi govt to be exact)

And the govt makes the rules.

Even if Etisalat was not owned by the govt, you would need a majority of stock holders to vote against censorship. after the UAE government (in the shape of ADIA) the next major shareholders are parts of the ruling families, and prominent businessmen, people who WANT censorship.

In this case, we would follow a full open economic plan (just as a stock co. in the US would) and they would still censor the internet because a vote would authorize that.

Yes, this isnt Saudi Arabia (and you should be thankful for that) but because you enjoy so many more freedoms than those islamic countries you FORGET THAT THIS IS (at least officially) STILL AN ISLAMIC COUNTRY.

We come from a different background, believe different things, and do things differently.

So when in Rome...

Because our thinking is different from yours, we are backward thinking. here you make the mistake of assuming that you're way of thinking is the norm. it isn't. there is not one way of thinking. every place has it's own perspective, the fact that you make this assumption proves 2 things. you're bigotry and arrogance. you would call me a fundamentalist zealot if I bitched that my way was not practiced in your country, but it's ok for you to do that exact thing in mine?

PRETENDING. you just said it yourself. If they are pretending, then they also believe that you have not the right, don't they (sorry, been reading too much Plato the last week)

And you are wrong, you are paying for the service that Etisalat offers. not the internet. The service is called Al Shamel and it in a censored internet connection.

No one forces you to pay. you have a choice here, pay for their service, even though it's not exactly what i wont (nor is it at the price I want, Cause I agree 100% that it's WAY too expensive)

Or, you can not agree to guy their service. it just so happens that they are a monopoly, and in this country, that is not illegal. again, it's the law.

BTW, I just want to say that I'm not angry or anything, many people tell me I sound like I'm pissed off when i type... and when I talk actually. I am happy that I found people to debate, talk, discuss and chat with.

expat said...

One day there will be a civil war here
and you will have 2 choices.


Interesting, you mean a civil war between nationals and expats, or?

I wish the UAE would tax foreigners for using our roads, as I paid tolls in the US, or make you guys pay sales tax, as I did in the US.

Well then nationals should be taxed just as much then, right? Because citizens and non-citizens are taxed alike in the US.

Because our thinking is different from yours, we are backward thinking. here you make the mistake of assuming that you're way of thinking is the norm. it isn't. there is not one way of thinking. every place has it's own perspective, the fact that you make this assumption proves 2 things. you're bigotry and arrogance.

Sorry, but no it doesn't. And just as we (expats) shouldn't assume things about nationals, you (nationals) shouldn't assume things about expats. Sure, some expats are bigots and arrogance, and many are in this place to make a quick buck. But there are also expats who come to this place because they want to experience something new, want to truly learn some new ways, want to experience new culture, new traditions, and want to take part of what's happening here.

Sometimes I feel like nationals automatically assume that any expat is out to get them in a sense. And that may be true for some (perhaps many expats) but not for all. So the stereotyping is rampant on both sides I think, which is not good.

This is good though. This kind of dialogue. I've had many discussions with national friends (and I'm a western expat) and I enjoy it immensely. That's something that doesn't happen in this country that much, I think, a dialogue, and that may just bring out the civil war you're talking about.

Not talking = bad

Talking = good

No one forces you to pay. you have a choice here, pay for their service, even though it's not exactly what i wont (nor is it at the price I want, Cause I agree 100% that it's WAY too expensive)

No one forces me to pay, but since it's the only way I have to get internet access it's kind of like a moo-point as Joey in friends would say.

marwan said...

"You are many? hordes of you are deported each day and replacements shipped in. you are an asset, and as most assets can be sold or destroyed."
Blogger shooting star alert! A Blessing in Tragedy (ABIT to his friends) sure made great use of those sensitivity classes in the US.

"So by your reckoning, I guess we should be really nice to you/other locals because they are the only ones that matter? Oh c'mon! We're already on our best behaviour!

"I wish the UAE would tax foreigners for using our roads, as I paid tolls in the US, or make you guys pay sales tax, as I did in the US."
We already pay tax in the form of registration. The US asks for payment on toll roads, but always supplies free alternatives which are longer and more congested.

"I am happy that I found people to debate, talk, discuss and chat with."
Some debate, when all your energies appeared to be channeled towards shutting it down.

Radha said...

A Blessing in Tragedy,

I agree that every country/society creates laws & rules according to the social norms prevalent. Which is why I would be ok, lets say, with pornographic sites being blocked in this country. Simply because they offend the culture of the people here.

However there is no reason why information sites shd be blocked. A persons right to information is absolute & not dependent on social norms.

But as you point out. this is futile. At the end of the day, we live in a monarchy. Not a democracy.

Tim Newman said...

One day there will be a civil war here...

Yes, there probably will. Both sides will call on the Americans to fight on their behalf whilst the leaders flee to expensive hotels in London or New York.

Anonymous said...

I wonder where this stuff stemmed from, where nationals hate expats and vice versa. I mean, the world has shrunk. Global citizenship isn't science fiction. And we are all the same species. I've been wandering through the history of the UAE but have yet to come across incidents where expats did something terrible to nationals, sparking this mutual hatred. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places. Honestly, I don't feel expats are here to bleed the country dry or fill their bellies at the cost of starving nationals or some such stuff. The UAE is a great country, a nation that symbolizes the tolerance of Islam. Nationals and expats have together built this country. I'm sure when Etisalat blocks a site, its blocked for both nationals and expats. If someone feels its wrong to block, why should the response be 'you are an expat, STFU'? This reminds me of an old saying that said "I'll kill myself to make my wife a widow".

samuraisam said...

A Blessing in Tragedy: "You are many... and? you control nothing"
I wouldn’t be so sure; as we saw with labourers they co-ordinated a bit and created a bit of destruction…

"you have no place in the govt (thank god) no place in the police, no place in the intelligence service, and no place in the armed forces. what can you do?"
How are you so sure? How are you so sure a lot more people around the blogs are local? I can see many reasons why people would pretend to be foreigners in this country.

"I, like you dislike censorship, greatly. I use the Tor network almost everyday, I used it forever for myspace till recently. so why dont you just get that? or JAP?"
Enjoy the grey hairs that pop up on your facial hair as you await Google’s loading /:

"In this case, we would follow a full open economic plan (just as a stock co. in the US would) and they would still censor the internet because a vote would authorize that."
If Etisalat was in a real economy it'd have no choice as all the other ISP's wouldn't censor the internet and it'd be cutting into its own profit margin.

"Because our thinking is different from yours, we are backward thinking"
No. This isn't 'us' and 'them'. I've lived in the UAE practically my entire life; despite this I still don’t like some of the things it does. I consider this to be a balance between 'forward' and 'backward'; one should use their own values to determine which is which and not be brainwashed into thinking any one thing is absolutely correct.

"And you are wrong, you are paying for the service that Etisalat offers. not the internet. The service is called Al Shamel and it in a censored internet connection."
Unfortunately you are 100% correct in saying that; seeing as it sounds very similar to something I've heard before it wouldn't surprise me if you work for Etisalat...

”BTW, I just want to say that I'm not angry or anything, many people tell me I sound like I'm pissed off when i type... and when I talk actually. I am happy that I found people to debate, talk, discuss and chat with.”
I understand that too; and I hope to see a blog under your user name soon sharing your thoughts (if you don’t have one already)

anonymous @ 30 October, 2006 10:53:
"I wonder where this stuff stemmed from, where nationals hate expats and vice versa"

From two things...
Inherent (i think thats the word I'm looking for..) bias towards locals in some aspects of life, and the difficulty in gaining emirati citizenship.

DG said...

Most of the time, if something bad happens, the government & the locals get the blame.

But good things go un-noticed Don't be so much biased my friends :-)

By the way, I am not a big fan of Etisalat, but I am patient because there is not much I can do to change the situation. So why increase my blood pressure over it? Let them do whatever they want, may their profit reach 100 billion dollars & may they rule the whole world.

People of the UAE, you were sent to this world just to act as a cash cow for our beloved telecom company, so stop complaining & do your job properly :-)

poo said...

Here you go samuraisam
a blessing in tragedys' blog ?

Its either this -> http://uaechronicles.blogspot.com/

or this -> http://mkdircommand.blogspot.com/

a blessing in tragedy like the second one, specially the title mkdirCOMMAND
Technology rants from the UAE

Harsha said...

FYI, The Police DOES have expats.

samuraisam said...

it's the uaechronicles one...

"Posted by A Blessing in Tragedy..."

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

Expats IN CHARGE? I know that the UAE's verion of the CIA has expats, but once again, in no `1position of authority. infact, not only do non locals not have any power, but only locals who were lucky enough to be born with the "right" name are in charge.

No, I mean one day sects of locals will revolt against other sects, thats what a civil war is. it will have nothing to do with you. When Sh. Zayed died I was in the US studying with my brother, cousin, and 3 2nd cousins. I dont know what you heard of the account, but since many in my family work in the govt we were told to be ready to withdraw from classes and come back because there was a HUGE chance that a power struggle between Sheikha Fatima's sons (Mohammed, Abdulla...) and Sh. Khalifa could happen.

In which place you would have families (tribes) alined with each side (and controlling various parts of the govt) basically killing eachother off.

Ahmad Khalifa Al-Suwaidi (Sh. Zayed's head advisor and friend from childhood) was the ONLY man in this country that stood up and stopped it.

Yes, we all would be taxed, but once again, this is a muslim country, so an expat would be taxed DOUBLE what a local would be, also, this is a rich country, and although I know that taxes will come (soon) for the meantime expats should be taxed for using national and public services.

I agree with you, Etisalat is (currently, give 'em a few months) the only ISP (except for media city) but this situation is EXACTLY like shopping for a new car.

I want to buy a car, the only car available to me (Either by availability, price range,color... whatever) is a nice red honda civic.

Upon further inspection, you notice that the car is exactly what you want... oh damn! NO SUNROOF!

You really want a sunroof, in fact, to you, a sunroof is a must. so you only have 2 choices (and one non conventional choice)

1. You buy the car as is, and put up with the fact that you didnt get exactly what you want.

2. You dont buy the car and wait for them to come up with exactly what you want.

3. you buy the car and take it to Mussafah (or al sina'iah in Sharjah) and have an aftermarket sunroof in.

Same thing.

1. buy the internet service knowing that it isnt exactly what you want.

2. Dont buy it, in which case you have nothing, and wait till the exact service you desire is available.

3. buy the god forsaken servicem and install an open source application that will make it as you want it to be.

I actually have no ill feeling toward expats or any stereotypes. My mother was American (May she rest in piece) and my wife is American as well. a cute, polish/Italian American with more tattoos that a biker.

What I'm telling you is this is how things are done here, and you, being in a country that isnt yours, should axcept this. I dont go to the US and bitch about woman not covering their mid-rifts.

I'm not by any means saying that my moral set is better, and I dont think that yours is better. What I am saying is that they are DIFFERENT, and if you are here to expand on what you know and experience new culture... then you cant really bitch about said culture when it is different.

Both those are my blogs. there are also a poetry one (in english, arabic was never my strong point) Thank you! You are the FIRST person to get that title! does no one save the people on Emirates Mac use anything like Unix here?

Also:

shadowsweed.blogspot.com
ultrablue662.blogspot.com

Yes, if shit hits the fan the 1st thing to happen would be the ruling class leaving (though probably to a place like Amsterdam, you know, legal prostitution and drugs) but some of us locals truely love our country, and I for one havent busted my ass for this plot of desert to run off when I dont get my way.

I'm not trying to shout any debate down, I have my views, and you yours, the point of a debate is to sway the other side's opinion. Some things can be swayed, and some, although you would admit makes sense, you cannot be swayed on. thats fine.

Sensitivity classes? I dont know what you've heard but I didnt go to a hippie school, but at the very least, unlike most locals who go to the US and only take the courses they need (Usually business or computers) I made an effort to understand the culture of my host country. Western Philosophy and thought, Religous traditions in the US, Western History, American history, Psychology...

Plus, I didnt say anything for anyone to get angry at! in accounting, you are taught that employees are (on book) assets. and just like a car I own, that I can lend, sell, or destry. I can send an employee on a course, move him to a different dept, fire him and release him to a different employer, or deport him.

We need a chat room, or a monthly meeting, like C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, and... I forget used to. you know, talk about things, religion, politics, what I did last summer, have some tea. it would be fun!

samuraisam said...

Would anyone be up for a community blog IRC channel? (preferably SSL for those of us who live and die by our paranoia)

poo said...

A Blessing in Tragedy

Not everyone here is stuck in the windoze world :)

poo -> CentOS, OpenBSD, Ubuntu

And shamelessly on XP too :p

Anonymous said...

samuraisam ... I vote for the IRC channel ... Only if to play trivial pursuit with the bot :)

#AECOM ?

samuraisam said...

Someone decide on a network which supports SSL; i have to go out for a few hours and when I get back i'll assist in setting it up and i'll make a public posting so we get a few people in

Anonymous said...

"this is a muslim country, so an expat would be taxed DOUBLE what a local would be,"

1)What does a double tax for expats have to do with Islam?

2)Are there no expat Muslims?

MM

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 16:53

[...]"this is a muslim country, so an expat would be taxed DOUBLE what a local would be,"[...]

Something to do with this?

Please correct me if there was some other reason for that comment a blessing in tragedy

poo said...

Hmm a more sensible link compared to the one above. This leads to the correct section

From the wiki entry -> [...]The two main taxes imposed on dhimmis are known as jizya — a poll tax — and kharaj — a land tax. Early chronicles use these terms indiscriminately; only later did the kharaj emerge as a tax payable by a farmer regardless of his religion.[...]

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

No! you still use XP after knowing the light that is Ubuntu (or any linux distro) BSD, and Mac? I'm really going to cry!

I HEART MY MAC!!! ^_^

I'm up for anything to chat. I like this group of people, things run pretty fast here.

No, there are expat muslims, and the Jizya on Dhimmi's is not exactly what I'm talking about. That is something like a tax that is (roughly, and depending on who you ask) double that of a muslim's Zakat. and since the zakat is 2.5% the Jizya is 5%.

The loophole here is if an expat were muslim, they wouldnt have to pay.

What I mean is a National (meaning, country) tax. but of course, as much of the UAE, it would be based on the Zakat/Jizya thought.

Basically a UAE national would now pay 5%, 1/2 as zakat, and 1/2 to the govt. an expat would pay 10% all to the govt in exchange for using public services and safety. and by expat I mean anyone who does not have a UAE passport. So it's not like Im attacking any one group.

I know I'm evil, but my views lookout for UAE citizens, your country should be looking out for you.

Hey, at least you arent finger printed each time you come back!

I dont see one reason why a National would pretend to not be. I dont see any reason that anyone would pretend to be anyone else. that, is, IMO, a sign of a weak person easily swayed my external elements.

;)

On an unrelated note, I am craving a burger from BK all of a sudden, yest I cant remember what a burger tastes like. weird.

also, what are the stars next to le blogs on the lists?

Aro said...

Would take me hours, if not days, to reply to the different comments a blessing in tragedy has made. You sure man have some strong opinions worth discussing around a coffee.
Till then:
My call for action is not addressed to locals or expats, muslims or non muslims in any particular order. It is more to everyone with the conviction that no one should erect themselves as everybody else's moral guardian. Not in this specific context and not in this manner anyway. This is simply unacceptable for me.
The point you highlight about this being a muslim country is irrelevant. I am a muslim myself, an if I was to recommend changes to this country to make living in it closer to Islam teachings, believe me, I would start with something quite different from blindly sensoring the internet. So let's leave Islam out of this for once.
To me, it is more a matter of material gain (VoIP), internal politics in some cases, and plain induced mental blackout in some others. In all cases, it is the wrong way.
In a time and age where information IS power, where knowledge is emancipation, it is pathetic to resort to information sensorship as the people education mean.
A child would find it absolutely normal to be "in need of protection". To be told how and what he must think. To have someone decide for him what is fit and what is not fit for his viewing. We are not children anymore. (to my great regret)

We can act. We do not need people in the government for that. we can have petitions signed for example. it would be a start.

poo said...

a blessing in tragedy

Thanks for clarifying the dhimmi part. I was sure that I was mixing that up with the concept of an actual real world , "Tax". Thank you for correcting me.

Now, I agree with the fact that you want taxes. "Agree", because everyone in .ae knows that there is an indirect taxation in the form of a fee for this and that an the other. Pretty much like the USF crap on my phone bill. It makes more sense to call it a "Tax", and not some arcane fee thats charged as a matter of fact,(for no logical rhyme or reason IMO).

Said tax can be used for the good of the immigrants who need help ( *hint hint* boys in blue, mis-treated house maids et al).

All your ideas make sense to me, as does the idea(s) of someone who supports a fence and throwing out the Mexicans. The only issue I see with your model is... who is going to put this model in to practice. Am sure that at the very moment the powers to be are busy getting a subpoena together in order to grab the access logs from blogger.com

If not for anything just to make sure that you disappear and no one here ever gets to call from the "UN" , (as you mentioned somewhere here). That would be sad, as you seem to be one of the very few progressive .ae citizens ,(who I know of), who are thinking about the interests' of your fellow county men, women , ( & camels - apologies had to say that), before the $.

But tough titties , you will never get to make a difference as your compatriots will never know of you or your ideas & ideals ,( as extreme as they may be IMO).

The only reason I can think that would prevent you from ever enacting them ideas.... your last name is not [ Insert certain names here ].

I feel for you, as your heart is in the right place, head --- debatable ... but then am not your country-person.
The least I can say is .... don't lose your spirit,(& spunk, you got the balls to name some names), your nation needs it; bad.

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

aro, actually I love to debate, I love the what ifs, and how sos, I'm the original devil's advocate, and this was a great conversation!

For a real philosophical opinion of mine, check out my brand new entry on mine blog.

Oh, and I dont drink coffee, Though I would LOVE a mango citrus crap-o-chino!

samuraisam said...

ok, I have just created a UAE community blog IRC channel on Linknet ( irc.no.link-net.org:7000 )
Please join with SSL enabled; the channel is #uaecommunity

will make a public posting about it later; hope to see some people joining!

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