Etisalat blocks Skype. Du doesn’t. And neither blocks Chatroulette. Confusing, huh?
The fact that one telco prevents access to the Skype website, and the other doesn’t, is yet another example of the UAE’s confused and contradictory policies on internet access.
March 18, 2010 6:30 by kippreport
As the local telecoms regulator confirmed earlier this week, Skype remains very much banned in the UAE, despite the door being opened to local operators wishing to launch their own ‘voice over internet protocol’ services.
The ban only applies to people using a computer to call regular telephone lines; it is not illegal to use services such as Skype to make calls between two computers, or at least that’s Kipp’s interpretation of the law.
Someone should tell Etisalat this. Because the telco insists on blocking access to the Skype website, which means that you cannot download the software to make (legal) calls to other computers.
Weirder still is that Etisalat’s rival, du, does NOT block the Skype website. So, if you have a du connection, you can download Skype, and even top up your account with credit. Presumably, a user is then able to make illegal calls to landlines and mobile phones from the UAE.
Both Etisalat and du are bound by the same UAE laws. So why the difference on policy when it comes to blocking the Skype website? (An aside: Some analysts have said it would make commercial sense for du to form a joint venture with Skype…)
Either way, the fact that one telco prevents access to the Skype website, and the other doesn’t, is yet another example of the UAE’s confused and contradictory policies on internet access.
Take Flickr, for instance. The image and video hosting website is blocked in the UAE, presumably because some of the content is pornographic. But there is porn on Facebook, too – and that’s not blocked.
And then there’s Chatroulette, the website that allows you to randomly choose a person with whom to share a video chat. As has been widely reported, much of the conversation on the site is of a sexually explicit nature. And predictably, many male users of the site use it as a masturbation aid. Click here, if you dare.
It is difficult to see how Chatroulette, which can confront a user with sexually explicit material without any warning, could be deemed less offensive than Flickr, on which a user would have to actively seek out pornographic content in order to view it. But Flickr is blocked, and Chatroulette isn’t. It doesn’t make sense.