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06 February, 2006

Surfing like it's 1969

We all know that this isn't going to happen, since our fortunately visionary leader, now Vice President of the entire UAE, is hardly going to let anyone interfere with his world-renowned and respected free zones.

But in fairness to the TRA, let us consider the possible reasons why the UAE telco watchdog is so keen that free zones should "lose immunity" from the dreaded proxy:

1. Has an underground industry sprung up, involving the widespread smuggling of downloaded porn from Tecom to the rest of the UAE?
No - that kind of material would smuggled in from Asia by video pirates, or taped off illegally unblocked satellite feeds.

2. Is Tecom teeming with vulnerable, impressionable young children and teenagers who need protecting from "offensive" content?
No - Tecom is a business zone, and (expats at least) have to be 21 to get a working visa there.

3. Are companies in Tecom crying out for help to prise their employees' sweaty fingers away from the PR0N button on their keyboards?
No - because most Tecom companies are perfectly capable of monitoring and limiting their staff's inappropriate internet usage.

So what can we gather from this about why the TRA is so incredibly desperate to slow down Tecom's internet speed to the equivalent of a 1962 300-baud Bell modem? Really very little, except a worrying sense of "ner ner! you can suffer like the rest of us".

Whatever the motive, how shockingly embarrassing that a country's main telecoms organisation is the very body spearheading the attempt to drag it back into the Dark Ages.

Labels: , ,

21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One request from SD, please stop linking to 7days since you need to have an account to view the link. I just don't get it why you need to give in your nationality to view online version of a tabloid!

On the issue, porn lovers will find their way through any service provider let it be Etisalat or others(file sharing networks are easiest ones).

Censoring Internet is like putting a net in the sea to stop water flowing from one side to the other!

06 February, 2006 02:27  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Well, I have to give a link as a cite for legal protection.

That link won't work for anyone until tomorrow morning anyway. I was only able to read the first paragraph (which was enough!)

06 February, 2006 02:28  
Blogger Destitute Rebel said...

sensoring anything in this day and age is impossible and irrational- TRA has to learn to live with it - whoever wants to monitor the content of their house hold can easily do it and dont need TRA as a nanny.

06 February, 2006 03:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you need the internet anyway?

For any info or emails needed, I have a brit to do it.
For entertainment, you will find me on the club swimmming pool with a shesha and a large Caipirinha.
And I chill in niteclubs after hours working on me languages.

I dont give a monkey about rents and I dont bother driving as I am driven. The more it cost me, and the more I charge the clients and I wear shades in the dark with all da bling around.

Life is good

06 February, 2006 03:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As with all else ...

... pool safety, cartoons, Internet, TV ...

... the peoples native to this part of the world need a nanny. Or a Big Brother? Otherwise, they might be required to THINK, DO SOMETHING and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY of themselves, their children, their work, their lives. Oh no, that is too hard!

Whenever you ask yourself why is it so, look at the date. The year is ...? No, not 2006.

06 February, 2006 06:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe its all just a sinsiter plot to block us access to Danish Cartoons and Danish websites?

06 February, 2006 07:18  
Blogger A Yahya said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

06 February, 2006 10:04  
Blogger sheikha cheryl said...

Anon (02:27) just sign up at 7days.

And what is all this "Anonymous" garbage, just put a name or a nickname or something.

06 February, 2006 11:18  
Blogger Dubai Media Observer said...

The issue is more of Dubai being more liberal than what conservative Abu Dhabi would like it to be. Unlike the US, where the federal government is in a non-influential state (DC), the federal government here is in, perhaps the most powerful emirate. And so there will always be a bit of a struggle between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, be it as important as immigration laws or as silly as censorship.

I think the TRA is doing this all in spite of Dubai. Just like Dubai has been slowly expanding its TECOM coverage to include residentials. I mean, come on, TECOM delivers Internet service to as far as International City -- and that's quite a long way from DMC/DIC.

I don't really buy into SD's blind belief in Sheikh Mohammed's utter devotion to unhindered Internet access. Or is it SD's way of pleading that the people who be, read this and think, ah.. that's what I'm expected to do? It's not that Sheikh Mohammed has not been a proponent of everything liberal we see about Dubai, it's just that when it comes to inter-Emirate relationships, there is a lot more involved than meets the eye. We may never know the intricate type of relationships involved and so decisions are not solely based on Dubai's wish to be a media hub or not.

06 February, 2006 15:04  
Anonymous unJane said...

anon@0227....I got directly into the link....no forms to fill or anything else.....although on the issue of nationality, have you ever lived anywhere else that they ask you that question at every opportunity from free raffle coupons to service requests? Very annoying and not the least pc.

06 February, 2006 15:58  
Blogger secretdubai said...

utter devotion to unhindered Internet access

Substitute for "unhindered Internet access" for diversification, foreign investment, media/internet/"knowledge" (fk I hate that word - make me think of London taxi drivers!) organisations.

Or in short, $$$.

There are companies here that will relocate if they are forced to suffer the internet problems that the rest of the UAE does. It's not even the blocking so much as the effect it has on speed. And there is the ideaology as well: either you are an independent, foreign-owened, foreign-run company in a "free" zone or you are not. Qatar and Bahrain are sitting there with open arms for the disaffected.

I predict the big story of 2007-2008 is going to be some signifcant movement west - figuratively and literally.

06 February, 2006 16:19  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Or is it SD's way of pleading that the people who be, read this and think, ah.. that's what I'm expected to do?

Sadly not. The day that is likely is day that I point out the strategic brilliance of re-filling DMC lake with melted fudge (ARE YOU LISTENING POWERS-THAT-BE?)

Re inter-emirate relations - I fear that it is still one of the "unsafe" issues to openly discuss. I itch and burn to comment from that perspective, but caution/cowardice generally prevail.

06 February, 2006 16:24  
Blogger nzm said...

It could also be a way of preparing us for higher prices for unrestricted access.

Picture this:
The TRA bans unrestricted access.

Tecom "does a deal" with them and comes back to the free zones, saying, "We understand how vital unrestricted access is for you. We've found a way to supply it to you, and this is how much it's going to cost."

Then they
double/treble/quadruple/whatever
the existing rates so that all the companies can still achieve unrestricted access.

What heroes they're going to be!

My boss has already mentioned Qatar as an alternative if things get too ridiculous here.

06 February, 2006 17:30  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

DIC/DMC/Knowledge Hamlet are Sheikh Mohammed's babies. The great man has always understood that censored Internet would strangle these babies at birth. Now that they are toddlers, and right up until their advancing years, they cannot function as intended if their Internet access is censored.

Surely the Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE has a bit of wasta with the TRA?

06 February, 2006 19:36  
Anonymous uaenotfwee! said...

so what 's gonna happen?freedom! freedom!(or no?)

06 February, 2006 21:23  
Anonymous mohamed Elzubeir said...

If Bahrain would afford me the same business opportunities that Dubai does, I would relocate to Bahrain in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, Bahrain's attitude towards businesses is a bit too slow to adapt to the new world order.

Qatar.. who knows, it could be a serious contender, though it appears to want to differentiate itself from Dubai as being a cultural hub more than a business one.

In reality though, sadly Bahrain is the only one with the most potential to be both. Too bad the Bahraini government is not half as pro-active as the UAE's. That's the price of the so-called 'reforms' -- but that's a whole other topic.

07 February, 2006 00:00  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

Gulfnews: Maybe one step too far

07 February, 2006 11:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just spotted the trademark green and white ETISALAT car outside a Media City building...hmm..whats cooking!

07 February, 2006 13:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what the TRA will try to "protect" us from? The UN Refugee Agency's site was blocked the other day. Are there some dirty pictures in there somewhere?

07 February, 2006 22:28  
Anonymous BarbaPapa said...

Dont these guys realize that it isn't a 'pron' issue?! Its access speeds and the services we need not a quick $exual fix!

As for the proxy, they can make it optional with the TRA version of NetNanny for all non-businesses!

08 February, 2006 17:28  
Blogger the shadow said...

It's true that the p()rn issue is imaginary.

The average Tecom worker is so busy, and the job environment is so competitive, that I wonder who has the time or carelessness to surf for nasties at work?

I'm sure that this is pretty obvious, which leaves me to believe that the true motive to proxy everything would be political or bureaucratic in its origin.

Surely it would not be too much of a problem to amend the TRA slightly?

If the speedy internet disappears, I don't see much incentive for companies to cluster in the TECOM free zones except for the cushiness/zeitgeist factor.

09 February, 2006 19:33  

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