Up to date information concerning the state of the proxy in the United Arab Emirates.
If you think a certain website has been un-necessarily blocked, please email here.
Second Life VoIP
Does anyone know why Etisalat has VoIP blocked on Second Life?
Considering that it is actually computer>computer VoIP there is no reason that it should be blocked.
For anyone curious, the ports that Second Life apparently uses for voice
are as follows:
"Known ports required for voice:
UDP: 3478, 5060, 5062 (these if blocked have the side effect of the parcel voice enabled icon spuriously reporting land as voice enabled - VWR-1908)
UDP: 12000-15999 (it is possible that only a subset of this range is really needed but failure to connect on various ports in this range have the side effect of constant "Connecting to in-world Voice Chat..." messages in chat history)"
Labels: etisalat, ports, second life, tra, voip
New blocked page graphic + 'internet access management policy' categories
Emiratesmac's posting on the UAE community blog
reveals that Etisalat has implemented a new block page.
More interesting than the visual change is a link contained on the new page to a PDF
that lays out the categories that you're not mature enough to view.
Most of it is as expected, but finally an explanation for the TLD blocking (for instance how the UAE blocks all .il/Israeli websites)13.
Prohibited Top Level Domain (TLD)
This category includes Internet Content under a Top Level Domain names which offends against, is objectionable to, or is contrary to the public interest, public morality, public order, public and national security, Islam morality or is otherwise prohibited by any applicable UAE law, regulation, procedure, order or requirement."
For now the new page is only visible to users of Etisalat's transparent proxy (i.e. those that have not filled out the proxy details in their browser) and as usual, the complaint form doesn't work (yet again)
Labels: etisalat, proxy, tra
last.fm and twitter unblocked
After what? over an entire year or two the TRA or Etisalat has finally managed to unblock both twitter and www.last.fm...
Well at least partly, you can't actually view people's profiles on last.fm, which kind of defies the whole point of the site.
Unfortunately, Flickr still remains completely blocked through Etisalat.
This follows a recent instruction by the TRA to unblock 1000 websites in the UAE
, the list has not been made public yet.
Labels: du, etisalat, proxy, tra
TRA to unblock 1000 websites
According to The National...
"Internet users will soon be able to access more than 1,000 websites that UAE censors had deemed offensive, according to officials from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).
The TRA will instruct web service providers to unblock the sites as part of its new “internet access management” policy, which was introduced today.
The new policy will require the Government-controlled internet provider duopoly of Etisalat and du to unblock the sites before Aug 29. It would also formalise the UAE’s internet censorship standards and dictate a clear framework to internet service providers concerning which sites should be restricted, the TRA announced."
(The National: Censors unblock 1,000 websites)
Some additional information has been provided by zawya...
"Such sites as: criminal sites that provide specific instructions or methods of encouraging individuals to commit unlawful acts or criminals, phishing sites which aim to deceive users in order to obtain personal data such as user name and password for credit cards, or include harmful codes and information on special piracy programs, and websites which promote for illegal drugs, pornography, gambling, as well as websites which include materials that reflect the hatred of divine religions and prophets in general, and sites that promote ideas of terrorism or supporting terrorism.
In this respect, H.E Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, TRATRA Board Member and Director General, said: "We have always considered the interests and benefits of consumers throughout the formulation of this policy, which laws are directed to protect Internet users, because we believe in the role of the Internet as a primary mean of acquiring knowledge".
Mr. Al Ghanim concluded: "Given the fact of the commercial, economic and media work environment of many governmental bodies and institutions in the country, the TRATRA has implemented some exceptions on blocking access to certain websites, which contents may be commensurate with the nature of their work, where they might be in dire need to know vital information via the Internet that is at the core of their work. We don’t want the blocking system to have a negative impact on their work and activity".
(more here: Zawya: TRA issues regulation policy on ''Internet Access Management"
Still no word on whether people will be allowed to share playlists of their music (www.last.fm), micro-blog (www.twitter.com) or upload and view photographs (www.flickr.com)... Most likely not.
Labels: du, etisalat, internet censorship, tra
So finally livejournal
has been blocked (again) in the UAE (thanks to anon for tip)
A few weeks back I wrote a post on the website www.vimeo.com; I actually complained to Etisalat about the site and was told that they didn't care/it was against policy because it was categorized as 'dating' (which leads me to believe no matter what website it is, if some company in the US lists it as dating they dont care at all and don't seem like they even review the website themselves).
I suggested to securecomputing that the website was not dating and they have since recategorized it (which means vimeo is now unblocked in the UAE).
Unfortunately there are 3 websites (that I know of) which are commonly complained about for being blocked (www.last.fm, www.twitter.com and now www.livejournal.com); as you can see from this screenshot, securecomputing lists them all as social networking/dating, so if a website is social networking it is automatically considered a dating website too. This seems like quite a severe limitation. It is also quite unfortunate as all four of these websites have very little to do with dating (vimeo is a video website like youtube with a policy against adult material, last.fm is so people can share playlists of what music they're listening to, twitter.com is much like blogspot/blogger, and livejournal.com is like blogger too)
3 cheers for Etisalat.
Labels: etisalat, livejournal, securecomputing
Proxy serving private information
du's proxy slowing web access
twitter and last.fm
are presently blocked in the UAE--neither website offers adult content.
A brief description of twitter from wikipedia...
"Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send "updates" (or "tweets"; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service (e.g. on a cell phone), instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific or Facebook."
A brief description of last.fm from wikipedia...
"Using a music recommendation system known as "Audioscrobbler," Last.fm builds a detailed profile of each user's musical taste by recording details of all the songs the user listens to, either on the streamed radio stations or on the user's computer or portable music device. This information is transferred to Last.fm's database ("scrobbled") via a plugin installed into the user's music player. The profile data is displayed on a personal web page. The site offers numerous social networking features and can recommend and play artists similar to the user's favourites."
Do either of these sites sound offensive in any way?
Labels: stupid blocks
business unaffected by du proxy?
According to Khaleej Times...
A du official said yesterday, “With immediate effect, all pornographic web sites will be blocked as per the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) requirements.”
"“du has blocked pornographic sites only, a move we are sure all parents will welcome. Content blocking guidelines are provided by the TRA and we abide by these,” he explained."
He also clarified that business will remain largely unaffected. “Normally business should not be affected because du has only blocked pornographic sites and sites that contain material that is offensive to the moral, cultural and social values of the UAE.
Despite claiming three times that only pornographic websites will be blocked (and also claiming only once that websites 'offensive' will be blocked) I find it interesting that on the 14th of April the following websites were blocked...
arabtimes.com = blocked
secretdubai.blogspot.com = blocked
wikipedia article on 'fitna' = blocked
Labels: censorship, du, telecommunications regulatory authority, tra
Preliminary Du proxy testing
playboy.com = blocked
-http://188.8.131.52/index.html = blocked
-0330.0243.0211.0003 = blocked
-0xd8.0xa3.0x89.0x03 = blocked
arabtimes.com = blocked
-http://184.108.40.206/ = unblocked
secretdubai.blogspot.com = blocked
wikipedia article on 'fitna' = blocked
uaeprison.com = unblocked
skype.com = unblocked
blogger.com = unblocked
wikipedia = unblocked
benkerishan.blogspot.com = unblocked
flickr.com = unblocked
youtube.com = unblocked
digg = unblocked
vimeo.com = unblocked
hi5 = unblocked
much.net = unblocked
etisalat.tk = unblocked
onebigconstructionsite.blogspot.com = unblocked
uaecommunity.blogspot.com = unblocked
google search for 'fuck'= unblocked
Labels: censorship, du, proxy, telecommunications regulatory authority, tra
First day of du proxy
Today marks the first day of internet censorship on Du internet connections; they have issued a public statement as follows:
"It is our constant endeavour to maintain the perfect balance between ensuring that all our customers' requirements are met, and that we comply with all the guidelines of the TRA, including those on internet content filtering. more hereDu censorship first began on the 23rd of March with the blocking of the Secret Dubai Diary website
The World Wide Web offers us great opportunities to get and share information and to communicate. However, it is imperative that when making use of this technology for its enormous benefits, we respect the moral, social and cultural values of the United Arab Emirates.
du will be blocking all content that is not in line with these values, effective from 14 April 2008. Due to the nature of the content filtering process, some harmless sites may also inadvertently be blocked. We request our customers' assistance in informing us when a site that they consider harmless has been blocked, by writing to email@example.com so we can look into the matter."
According to the following Khaleej Times article
, the proxy on Du is a result of a new "Internet Penetration Policy" (which as far as I'm aware hasn't been published publicly by the TRA yet);
"In a Press statement yesterday, Mohammed Al Ghanim, Board Member and Director-General of TRA, said, “Since du is a new company that has just started to implement the concept of monitoring in the best possible way, it has to comply with the policy within a month from the date it is announced.”
However, a TRA spokesperson clarified, “The policy actually means proxy. It will regulate the web content allowed in the UAE. Since du is new, it has to wait for the policy before it can buy the software to regulate its web content. Etisalat is already following the policy. Both telecom operators have to abide by the TRA regulations.”
Labels: censorship, du, etisalat, telecommunications regulatory authority, tra
Etisalat blocks part of facebook
Etisalat has once again managed to block an integral part of facebook (or was it just MySpace I'm thinking of the last 5 times they managed to do something like this?) (http://static.ak.fbcdn.net/
); this is preventing CSS and other design elements from the website loading properly.
Du begins blocking
Du has gone and gotten itself a proxy page!
The page that has been blocked? Secret Dubai's blog! Congratulations!
Thanks to anonymous for tip and screenshot
(reportedly blogger/blogspot is now working on Du connections once again--except for Secret Dubai's blog)
Labels: du, etisalat, telecommunications regulatory authority, tra
Feedback Form No More
It appears Etisalat's incompetence has removed any chance for a user to complain about the blocking of a site...
The "Feedback Form" link no longer works (it points to http://eim.ae/feedback
, a URL which no longer exists)
As is usually the case, I happen to possess a greater ability to provide customer service to Etisalat's customers than Etisalat itself by providing the following URL...http://feedback.ecompany.ae/doconfirm.jsp?choice2=1&username=
Simply hit that link, and you no long have to provide a username or password when complaining about a website (perhaps you were unable to complain in the past due to concerns of anonymity, now you can.)
Labels: etisalat, incompetence, telecommunications regulatory authority, tra
Yet another stupid block that has been complained about literally hundreds of times over the course of the past few months; last.fm described as "an Internet radio station and music recommendation system"
is unblocked, however user profiles remain blocked for some reason only known to the folks at Etisalat (who are idiots) and the folks at Secure Computing (who list the last.fm domain as "entertainment" and the user subdirectory as 'dating').
How exactly one would go about dating someone based upon musical taste is beyond me, perhaps Etisalat care to answer?
It'd be really nice if Etisalat could take 5 minutes out of their busy tea-boiling schedule to unblock the following URL:http://www.last.fm/user
Labels: censorship, etisalat, secure computing, tra
Dear Secure Computing,
Currently the following websites are listed as "Criminal Skills"
and/or P2P/File Sharing
Listing these websites as "Criminal Skills" is fairly innaccurate. It is only a crime if someone downloads pirated material that they have no legal right to on those websites, but who is securecomputing to say what rights people may or may not hold? and furthermore, by labelling them as "Criminal Skills" it automatically places any legal material unavailable to many. Listing these sites as "Hacking" seems pretty inaccurate too.
While the sites above are listed as Hacking/Criminal Skills, sites like http://www.torrentspy.com
are listed only as being P2P/file sharing.
Also, please note that two of these URLs (www.thepiratebay.org and www.piratebay.org) point to exactly the same content; how can they have different categorizations?
Labels: file sharing, secure computing, torrents
Dear the TRA/Etisalat,The URL in question has now been unblocked. Thank you to those responsible.
I know it probably didn't occur to you that people pay for internet connections so they can access information on the internet;
but while leaving the front page of www.imageshack.us,
You appear to have mistakenly blocked http://img182.imageshack.us/ because the company known as "Secure Computing" which you employ to decide which sites to block decided to categorise it as being Computing/Internet, Pornography
Thanks for wasting more of my and everyone elses time once more.
Labels: censorship, etisalat, proxy, telecommunications regulatory authority, tra
Dear the TRA or Etisalat,
I know you probably couldn't care less, but you've left http://mediaservices.myspace.com/
blocked while unblocking the rest of www.myspace.com
; this means no one can load any audio or video content.
Thanks for wasting everyone's time once more, in particular mine; Once for having to find out you've blocked said content, twice for having to go through the source code of a myspace page to try and find the URL that you've blocked, thrice for having to open Ethereal and record my data transmissions so I can find the URL and the forth time being that I had to write out this post.
I hope you can mess up more of the internet to waste more of everyone's time than you're already doing. That would be a great added service, you could probably charge for it too (that is, if you're not charging for it already; but if that is the case you could just charge twice and chances are no one would really notice or the only recourse available for consumers would take so long to enact that they'd just end up paying you all their money anyway.)
Labels: censorship, etisalat, incompetence, telecommunications regulatory authority, tra
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