Wow! It appears that our website has fallen foul of the UAE’s tough and some might say draconian free-speech laws, with our site suddenly finding itself blocked under the state’s Internet Access Management Regulatory Policy.
Users in the UAE who attempt to read any of our stories are now redirected to a page saying our website includes content which is banned in the country. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority says there are a number of prohibited categories which internet service providers must block.
Categories include fairly obvious ones like pornography and nudity as well as many many other categories which seriously curtail free speech – examples include slander, information about demonstrations, gambling and disclosure of secrets that may harm a person’s reputation.
The list is extensive and there are many grey areas – if the internet was meant to allow freedom of expression and access to information, then the UAE is seriously hampering that mission with its draconian laws.
What’s really surprising is that no one from the UAE authorities ever contacted us to say our site might be breaching the country’s laws. Nor is there anyway to appeal the decision.
However, our UAE readers do have two options. When you try to visit our site, you’ll be met with a message from either Du or Etisalat. You can fill in a quick online form to say that the content has been mistakenly barred.
Users can also access our site by using a VPN.
In the last few weeks, we’ve published a number of stories about life at Emirates – Dubai’s mega-airline. Our sources have shared information about how they are treated at Emirates and informed us of happenings within the airline.
As we’ve previously said, we felt it was important to share this information – to give our readers a fair and objective impression of Emirates. So that people are informed and allowed to make decisions based on different points of view.
During this period, we’ve reached out to Emirates on a number of occasions. We’ve sought to also share the airline’s account and make our reporting fair. At no point did Emirates raise any objections with us.
Last week, our site suffered a Denial of Service attack which prevented visitors from around the world visiting our site for nearly five hours. Since then, we’ve managed to restore service but it now seems there’s yet another barrier to people accessing our content.