18 May, 2009

unblock flickr

The TRA asked for our feedback and here it is:

As we sit on the eve of having the worlds biggest video sharing website cut to shreds by a 500 word long list of censored keywords, aside from the obvious questions like who was paid to sit and compile these 500 words and did they get paid for doing so, I think it is high-time to ask questions about another site that was blocked, then unblocked, the blocked again, and then unblocked again and then finally blocked completely across the UAE in which status it has remained for the past 2 years.

It is extremely unfortunate that the TRA, Etisalat and Du, can’t find a way to unblock Flickr so that it may be used again by people in the UAE. It also raises a question as to whether or not they have actually tried. The usual excuse for flickr’s block is as-usual completely redundant and as-usual ‘nudity’, it also as-usual relates to someone being a bit lazy.
According to Khaleej Times which claims to be quoting a TRA statement:
“It does not have the technical facility of blocking prohibited contents, and it cannot be partially blocked; where such facility is available on YouTube, Facebook and other similar sites.”


It sounds like someone from the TRA didn't actually check on anything before making that statement; images actually MUST be categorized on flickr as being safe, moderate or restricted. This affects whether they show up in searches or whether they are publicly accessible by someone without a flickr/yahoo account.

Funnily, this is a strikingly similar policy to Google images, deviantart and several other websites, yet all of them remain unblocked; infact by the same standard prohibited images are impossible to block via Google images yet that remains unblocked and flickr remains blocked.

Also interestingly enough is this paragraph on the flickr help section:
“Note: If your Yahoo! ID is based in Singapore, Hong Kong or Korea you will only be able to view safe content based on your local Terms of Service so won’t be able to turn SafeSearch off. If your Yahoo! ID is based in Germany you are not able to view restricted content due to your local Terms of Service.”


I wonder how much effort has been put forward to have UAE-based id’s be unable to access adult material?
Anyone from the TRA care to chime in?
(braces for TRA/RTA/KHDA/RERA strategic response 101: “unavailable for comment”

Of course placing blame upon the TRA etc is one part of the problem, the other problem is you, yes you UAE-based internet users… You wouldn’t sit there and do nothing if facebook was blocked, yet when one of the largest photo websites on the internet gets blocked no one cares. Join this facebook group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=83349217846 and help get flickr unblocked in the UAE.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

"how much effort has been put forward to have UAE-based id’s be unable to access adult material?"

Well if Yahoo had a UAE presence maybe that would be an option.. Yahoo doesn't (see yahoo.ae). There ARE no UAE based ids. IDs here are NOT IPs. If you sign up on yahoo.de or yahoo.sg thats a yahoo german or singapore ID.

Regardless bypassing the block in those countries is as easy as signing up for a yahoo id from another country (the US for example). So I don't think even a yahoo UAE id if it existed would meet the TRA criteria for allowing partial blocks.

samuraisam said...

Yes, that is true. However the other websites I have mentioned do not have a proper moderation system so the TRA is just making excuses. Go and do a google images search for "artistic nudity" with safesearch on, and you'll get quite a few mammary glands on screen, which the TRA has completely failed to block.

If the TRA really cared about nudity afflicting our poor minds then it would have blocked google images long, long ago.

samuraisam said...

And anonymous, yahoo actually owns yahoo.ae so they may have future plans for the uae.
There was actually a dispute involving that domain which may have delayed a yahoo website for the UAE (http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/decisions/html/2008/dae2008-0001.html)

The Sandman said...

I posted about the Flickr block on my blog a while back: http://sandman-files.blogspot.com/2009/03/flickr-blocked-in-uae.html

Anonymous said...

Another way of doing this is using a variation of "facial recognition" technology which works on the principle of identifying too much "skin". I am aware of one such technology out of Korea and another one out of the US. I don't remember the names but do remember seeing the demo of the US one at Techcrunch last year. Both of them are trying to target user generated content companies and telecom regulators.

Proud Emirati said...

boring boring

keefieboy said...

Sick, sick.

Kyle said...

It's surprising that no photography or artistically-inclined elements are not voicing any dissent here?

What gives?

Oh yeah, a big boo to the TRA for blocking Flickr. What's next? Gracenote & iTunes?

Al-ain Rose said...

I'm not into flicker anyway.

i*maginate said...

I'm surprised facebook hasn't been banned yet, when it can easily be used as a dating site, just how flickr was. What's really annoying is the chicks who still don't use their real name on facebook...strawberylicious et al...who hook up with guys called son_of_uae ...

The media corrupts society and leads to all kinds of temptations - this is what locals believe. If so, why not ban clubs, booze?

Where I'm typing from right now, it feels such freedom to surf the net freely. I thought the UAE was turning me into a lady-lover, amongst other things, so I watched a video which definitely helped me realise I'm totally straight.

The hypocrisy is ridiculous. If flickr is harmful for society, I say ban the lot. And if a scan was done on local guys' computers, I wonder how much porn would be found.

samuraisam said...

al ain rose: I am not that into flickr either; however such a large number of websites use flickr for image hosting that this block creates a huge inconvenience to internet users.

Particularly as a photographer, there are just so many photographers who post their work on flickr and nowhere else, it's really unfortunate that the site is blocked. Given the large number of people trying out photography as a hobby in the UAE it is even more disappointing.

rosh said...

Al Ain Rose: If you'd like to join UAECB, please email Sam at sam@samurai-sam.com. Member comments show up right away, don't have to go through comment moderation.

Thanks

Al-ain Rose said...

The hypocrisy is ridiculous. If flickr is harmful for society, I say ban the lot. And if a scan was done on local guys' computers, I wonder how much porn would be found.
...
??????
why don't you just behave your self and stop commenting impolitely? why all the hate towards locals?
in every post of her she has to talk shit about locals just to vent. the topic's about unblocking flicker and she somehow turned it into the porns vedios in locals' PCs ???? that turns my stomach!
weird mentalities really O_o!

Rosh, THANKS ALOT, I will inshalla.

Stained said...

I used to browse other photographer photostreams on flickr a few months back but now the Firefox add I used to bypass the block is not working anymore..

It does have adult content, but there is so much more to flickr than that...luckily I am able to view pictures that are linked from flickr...irrespective of that, I still wish they's unblock flickr...it really sucks that I as a photographer can't reach out to other photographers....

i*maginate said...

AA Rose (nice nickname btw) this is about what has been, by its blocking, construed as a porn site, posted on a UAE Community Blog.

'every post of her' - I can tell you read a lot.

'behave your self' - I'm not into spanking by a female, sorry.

0_o back to you!

Anonymous said...

I'm into torturing people and recording them for my own pleasure, so flickr doesn't mean anything to me

Al-ain Rose said...

I can tell you read a lot.
I'm not into spanking by a female
....
EW! & I can see how obviously knowledgeable you are! wow!
May I have some of your knowledge? plz just a lil? especially the spanking knowledge!

anyway ..

oh wait, this face is worth many words, here u r again: O_o !!
ciao! :)

Proud Emirati said...

i*maginate, yes bars should be banned and a dress code should be forced. I'd enjoy laughing seeing u being forced wearing the shailah and Abayah

can't wait :happy:

Brn said...

PE,

I agree with you that if the will of many (and maybe a majority) of Emiratis isn't being followed in many of these issues. I'm just curious, do you also support the ban on headscarves (or other religious symbols) in countries like France too? If not, can you explain the difference?

G to tha T said...

Stained: "luckily I am able to view pictures that are linked from flickr..."

You must be using Etisalat,as Du blocks the Flickr static site as well(I tried this).

Al-ain Rose said...

I'd enjoy laughing seeing u being forced wearing the shailah and Abayah
..
don't worry about her appearance I'm gonna guide her into a good Abaya & shaiala shop. :D:D:D
يبيعون فيه عبايا و شيل للعيايز
خخخخخخ

Anonymous said...

why all the hate towards locals?

7asad. Simple. the fact they use the term "local" instead of referring to us by our actual nationality speaks volumes.

Proud Emirati said...
i*maginate, yes bars should be banned and a dress code should be forced. I'd enjoy laughing seeing u being forced wearing the shailah and Abayah

can't wait :happy:

One day, when the people here put right infront of greed.

I'm just curious, do you also support the ban on headscarves (or other religious symbols) in countries like France too?

The difference is a place like france is supposedly "secular" where NO religion is official.

In the UAE we have an official religion. It is not a secular state, and the laws here are "based" on religious doctrine.

HUGE difference.

If France were to say openly, we are a christian (or what have you) state, then yes, I support them banning hijabs, the star of david, and anything else.

This whole post is kind of funny though. Only someone with so much free time would bitch about a site being blocked.

What is the ratio of blocked to unblocked sites in the UAE btw? Anyone?

Brn said...

Anonymous,

I must have not expressed my question well. It seems to me that the underlying reason that the UAE has an official religion because the majority of Emiratis want it to. That is fine, as I have always said, it is your country and your get to set the rules. But when the majority of the French want to have a secular state that bans religious symbols, are you just as ok with that? If not, then what is the difference?

CY said...

Quick comment on the banning of religious symbols in France. As far as I know, this only applies to state run institutions. I can walk around France and wear a cross, sheyla, turban etc. but I cannot do so in a state run institution. I don't think the Law of 1905 (separation of Church and State) applies to Alsace-Lorraine (at the time it was not part of France) so I am not sure on the rules on wearing a cross, sheyla etc. in a school there. Parents can of course choose to send their children to religious run schools / religious classes but that option is only open to those who can afford it and/or live in an area with such a school. Many Catholic churches organise catechism classes on Wednesdays which is a day-off or half-day for most schools in France (although attendance is very low). I can't speak to other religions. Sorry - very off-post comment but I wanted to correct the idea that France "bans" religious symbols. Similarly, despite the UAE being a Muslim country, I have yet to see anyone in the UAE having problems because he has a cross in his car or wearing any other religious symbol.

Anonymous said...

Brn said...
Anonymous,

I must have not expressed my question well.

That seems to happen alot, you not expressing or understanding well.

But when the majority of the French want to have a secular state that bans religious symbols, are you just as ok with that? If not, then what is the difference?

In that case, no difference at all. Muslims who go to France have 2 options. Adhere to the law, or simple dont go.

However, in the France and Hijab case, there was a bit of assuming and ALOT of bending of rules going on.

They wanted to bad religious Symbols, and stated that someone is "free" to practice their religion, but that symbols, such as a cross, or the hijab, were not to be worn in public places.

A crass around a Christian's neck is NOT a a PART of their practice. It is a symbol, in addition to their practice.

The Hijab is COMPULSORY for Muslim women (and any "muslim" woman claiming otherwise isnt a very good one, if one at all.)

So by banning it you have banned those women from practicing their religion all together.

So in reality, they were saying we are banning all religious symbols, except for muslim women, we are banning them from practicing their religion all together.

And somehow I think that isnt in line with a "democratic" and "Free" country.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how long BING is going to stay up. with live video playable directly from the bing page for virtually any search 'term', Bing is definitely going down very soon in the UAE !!

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