The UAE’s second telecoms service provider du on Monday implemented plans to block websites deemed to offend the “moral, social and cultural values” of the country.
The move means companies operating in Dubai’s free zones plus residents of Nakheel or Emaar Properties freehold properties have come under the UAE’s proxy server for the first time.
Previously, du’s customers had largely unrestricted access to the internet. The UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said the proxy server blocks websites that contain pornography, alcohol topics, gambling, hatred, child abuse or terrorism. However, many more sites than just those containing such subjects are covered by the proxy.
The move is expected to raise concerns that media companies may have restricted access to the web as many local and international media organisations have headquarters in Dubai Media City, one of the free zones to which du provides telecoms and internet services.
Du informed customers of the change in its content filtering policy on Sunday through SMS.“We wish to inform you that from April 14, 2008, we will be blocking sites with content that do not conform to the moral, social and cultural values of the UAE,” du said in the SMS.
Du said in a statement the change would bring its internet service in line with the TRA guidelines. Internet services offered by etisalat have long been covered by the proxy server and TRA had said on several occasions over the past year that du services would follow suit.
Du blocks websites that transgress moral values