23 March, 2010

FNC attacks internet-censorship loopholes

"The FNC report also blamed the TRA for failing to prevent the use of proxy software that allows people to bypass blocks on hundreds of websites classified as “forbidden”.

“There is also some software that allows downloading things without going through the filtering process,” said Sultan bin Hussein, a member from Umm al Qaiwain.

“Peer-to-peer software is not being blocked,” he said.

“We notice the effect of this problem in the crimes committed by children and violence among the youth. All of these crimes are influenced by the internet.”

Mr al Ghanim said it was not possible to block all “forbidden sites”.

“Companies that offer peer-to-peer services change their websites and there are thousands of them that keep changing,” he said. "

More here: Give us cheaper telecoms says FNC

Does anyone anticipate the TRA trying to block VPN's anytime soon?

You can read more about this at the Federal National Council website (google translate)


Anonymous said...

It's so annoying having to put up with this crap in the 21st century. I'm old enough to figure out what sites I look up on the internet myself thank you very much.

Censorship just doesn't work. I'm not even sure it's Islamic. It would be interesting to see religious scholars who have studied the matter have to say about it.

They'll never be able to ban VPNs, if not for the simple fact that it's so easy (and cheap) for any moderately computer literate person to set one up on any foreign server or vps.

Anonymous said...

i dont know if this is technically possible but why doesn't etisalat give an option to the subscriber to choose a censored or an open connection. companies and families can choose the censored option if they want. I think this is a fair solution.

Anonymous said...

The option above shouldnt be allowed. We need to feel safe with the internet, and as the FNC said most crimes are committed after people get influenced through the internet.
Personally i wouldnt mind if all non-essential sites are banned (Facebook, youtube etc). Safety and security is paramount, and I dont think we were doing too badly 6-7 years before when there were fewer social sites.

Anonymous said...

They seriously believe this: “We notice the effect of this problem in the crimes committed by children and violence among the youth. All of these crimes are influenced by the internet.”

How about absent fathers and mothers spending too much time at work or the spa or at the coffee shop? How about children being raised by maids instead of parents? How about poor examples being set by the courts in punishing criminals? How about wasta and its negative impact on crime and punishment? The internet is responsible for all of the crime committed by children??!? That is as laughable as blaming these crimes on Al Gore (since he did invent the internet).

Where is responsibility? Where is self-control? What aspect of the internet caused an Emirati boy to stab another Emirati boy 11 TIMES? What aspect of the interent caused an Bahraini / Emirati fisherman to rape and strangle a 4 year old?

Stop treating people as children. Do the crime, do the time, irregardless of the other factors in life.

It is outrageous that an entity with the influence of the FNC is allowed to make such blatantly ignorant statements. (and please, do yourself a favor, look up the word ignorance before jumping).

Anonymous said...

All of these crimes are influenced by the internet. FNC

Why don't they lobby for a blanket Internet ban in the UAE?

P.S.: This world will never run short of imbeciles.

Anonymous said...

I agree. But I doubt they're censoring the internet to guard common decency. It's obviously more about a (vain) attempt to control information. IE: A lot of people seem to think it's still 1980.

It's just what they use to sell it. Prostitutes: OK. Exploiting human beings from 3rd world countries: OK. Having the largest carbon imprint per capita than any other nation on earth: OK. Building a (very) unislamic economy based on greed and Ribaa: OK. Adult men looking up sports illustrated: HAAAAAAARRRRAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!! I cannot understand how people don't see the hypocrisy in this.

Of course it's technically possible to have a subscriber choose if they want a censored or open connection. They're probably afraid that if people looked up the wrong sites they would *God forbid* learn to think for themselves and question their leadership & soceity.

unJane said...

Blaming the internet for the crime & violence of youth? Ridiculous. It's bad parenting - pure & simple.

BuJ said...

this is pure dumb.

why do u need to control the internet so much unless u have something to hide?!

sounds wrong, disgusting, and communist!

go fix our hospitals, then schools, then universities, then our damn internet!

oh yeah, FNC, please also try to fix our horrible driving issues that we face daily.

then worry about the net.

Yahya said...

There is a lot of filth out there, and so when it comes to censorship I think a limited amount is essential. I like the fact that in the UAE i can turn on the TV anytime of day and night and not be caught unaware by something pornographic.... I also like the fact that my kids will be able to surf then net without innocently bumping into stronger material.

I dont agree with blanket censorship but I do believe in a strong measure of Govt control...and any parent who cares for the innocence of their children would feel the same.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 33yo professional male and live by myself. Therefore I do not require censorship of the internet in my home. I am intelligent enough to make my own choices about what sites I visit or don't. I use a proxy at all times because I will decide what is appropriate for me, not the Government.

CG said...

I cannot believe that they are seriously concerned about the youth of today when they will not police people on simple matters like using baby car seats. This has nothing to do with anything except controlling the citizens. Everytime that beautiful page pops up saying that the site is blocked, it is just a gentle reminder that we need permission before we step anywhere. The same with sending text messages, after that couple got jail time for sending each other texts that were retrieved by Etisalat and presented in court, anyone who wants to send an sms will have to think a few times before hitting that send button.
If they want to keep on using the same old excuse that they are protecting the children, then perhaps they must start to go after the parents.

Anonymous said...

@Yahya I agree that kids should grow up without being exposed to certain things. And I have no problem with internet providers offering a filter for families who choose it.

What I do have a problem with is the government telling me, a grown adult what I can and can't look at. This is something I'm old enough to decide for myself. If i want to look up really depraved stuff I'll find a way to do it anyway.

The problem with this type of censorship is that it is always used as a means of oppression. If you want a free and open society (i don't necessarily mean a western style one) you cannot have this type of censorship. The internet is a very double edged sword, you have to take the bad with the good.

Believing one can control information in this day and age is being delusional. It becomes downright dangerous when you start blaming the internet, which has no voice, for all of societies ills.

There is a sickness in the gulf countries at the moment. The source of it is taking all the bad from the west and ignoring the good (freedom of speech and such) just to maintain a false sense of safety.

Is this not an Islamic country? Where in Islam does it say the government should decide for me what I can and can't see? Corruption comes from the bad actions of a society, the negative part of the internet is just an outlet for that. You cannot ban the latter hoping that that magically fixes the former. It just doesn't work that way.

Enough ranting, I have my VPN and am abroad much of the year so I get my fair share of "free" internet. It's just such a shame that people don't get that they're being controlled. The government is burning books and you think it's for your own good.....

Anonymous said...

Saying that it is good to control what material a mature internet user can view is like saying that it is good for an eagle to flip its wing ... only in a cage, and nowhere else but a cage.

Sorry, but it doesn't make any sense.

Yahya said...

@ the most recent Anon, I believe the government feels its 'Islamic right' to block certain websites. Although what and what not gets censored seems at times arbitrary, I do believe its more than just them exercising control for the sake of control.

If Etisalat or Du is providing a service to its customers that includes pornographic content, even unwittingly... then Islamicly, its not good for them. Sorry to bring religion into it, but I am just getting to the bare facts of the matter.

Also I would personally think twice about opening up the net in a country that is in itself not open. That to me doesnt make sense.

Anonymous said...

Let the FNC fix the bloody internet first. Censorship secondary.

Anonymous said...

@Yahya But what is this based on? Where in the sunnah or the Quran does it say the government should shield our eyes from impure things? From what I understand this is ones personal responsibility.

If all they blocked was pornography you'd have a point. But it appears all sorts os subversive (as well as innocent) content is blocked.

Being a muslim myself I don't see the problem with providing full access to the internet. I even can understand them blocking hard core pornography, even if it's an exercise in futility. What is a problem is an arbitrary group of guys being able to block stuff at their whim without any form of transparency whatsoever.

I agree with you that the society is not open, it just really gets me angry when people blame the internet or movies for societies ills, using it as yet another excuse not to face their own problems.

Anonymous said...

I think it's all a plot to promote illegal DVD sales by the DVD ladies and men who go door to door.

Don't let their poor command of language and submissive personalities fool you ... they are the ones that control the internet ...

B.D. said...

The type of net censorship practiced here is partially effective--unfortunately--in that it does make it hard, if not impossible, for those not net-savvy enough to access all the sites they might like to. And I'm 100% on the side of those who think this censorship is wrong.

From those who say it is necessary to protect children and what not, I haven't seen any logical argument against why parents and other adults can't simply do this by opting in to the censorship rather than having everyone restricted by it.

The problem with censorship, however you may justify it, is that it filters out a lot of desirable things as well as undesirable. It is like forcing the society to function with one hand instead of two. This results in a socially, intellectually, economically and otherwise handicapped population.

In a word, its retarded.

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