HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES IN UAE REPORTS – 2008
‘Social Web site Orkut and politically oriented Web sites ArabTimes.com and UAEPrison.com remained blocked during the year. Etisalat denied having the authority to block any site and referred all complaints and suggestions to the NMC’.
The government restricted access to some Web sites on the Internet and monitored chat rooms, instant messaging services, and blogs.
Individuals and groups generally engaged in peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail, with few reports of government prosecution or punishment, although self-censorship was apparent in many chat rooms and blogs. The UN Human Development Report estimated there were more than 300 Internet users per 1,000 persons.
On September 12, an appeals court upheld an August 2007 decision sentencing Majan.net’s owner and a blogger to one year in prison and a fine of 70,000 dirhams (approximately $19,070) when they refused to delete critical comments about a government official.
Etisalat, the country’s only Internet service provider, blocked via a proxy server material deemed inconsistent with the country’s values.
Blocked material included dating and matrimonial sites; gay and lesbian sites; sites concerning the Baha’i faith; sites originating in Israel; and sites explaining how to circumvent the proxy server. The proxy server occasionally blocked broad categories of sites including many that did not meet the intended criteria. Etisalat populated its proxy server list of blocked sites primarily from lists purchased from commercial companies, although individuals could also report offensive sites.
Social Web site Orkut and politically oriented Web sites ArabTimes.com and UAEPrison.com remained blocked during the year. Etisalat denied having the authority to block any site and referred all complaints and suggestions to the NMC.
The law explicitly criminalizes the use of the Internet to commit a wide variety of offenses, providing fines and prison terms for Internet users who violate political, social, and religious norms.
In addition to criminalizing acts commonly associated with “cyber crimes,” such as hacking, phishing, scams, and other forms of financial fraud, the law also provides penalties for using the Internet to oppose Islam, proselytize Muslims to join other religions, “abuse” a holy shrine or ritual of any religion, insult any religion, or incite someone to commit sin.
The law criminalizes use of the Internet in transcending “family values” by publishing news or photos pertaining to a person’s private life or family or by promoting a breach of public decency.
View ‘Internet Freedom’ at: Reports on Human Rights Practices In United Arab Emirates (2008):-