According to Press reports, YouTube is ranked among the top 10 most popular sites in the UAE and news about its possible censorship has sparked debate in the blogosphere.
Fake Plastic Souks sounds the alarm, and writes:
Blocking YouTube will further deny Emirati, and other, youth here of the opportunity to embrace a range of technologies and changes in social behaviour that are revolutionising the world around us.
That we are even contemplating blocking sites that contain content we don't like is a deep concern – the trick is engaging in a conversation, taking part in the interplay of ideas and opinion that is driving the Internet – and the flow of public
opinion around the world today.
the grapeshisha blog wonders:
We heard these rumors in the past, but more and more people seem to be confirming that these aren’t just false alarms anymore and that YouTube will actually be banned officially in the UAE. We can’t be totally sure yet until the site is totally inaccessible for our friends and members there, and according to them no action has been taken yet (despite thousands of other sites being blocked) however many are expecting it. Will the ban fail like it did with Facebook? Is the UAE testing the waters with how much internet censorship it can get away with?
Local newspaper Khaleej Times reports that the UAE's Telecommunication Regulatory Authority has said that YouTube will not be completely banned in the country as its content is already regulated by the authority.
Dubai Jazz agrees that some of YouTube‘s content should be moderated. He notes:
There comes the inevitable question, is youtube totally ‘safe’? Of course not, and I wholeheartedly support censorship on some of its content. Especially the kind of hate inciting content. You might choose to believe otherwise, but WE DO NOT have democracy and total freedom of expression in the Arab World. We have a vicious Sunni-Shia sectarian strife. We have an intimidating rate of illiteracy. We have an intimidating rate of credulity. The stable and relatively prosperous Arab societies are stable because there are measures that ENSURE everything stays stable. Even when stability sometimes borders on stagnation….. in short, I am not worried about moral disintegration of societies, I am worried about strives and rifts. So for the time being, some of the content, in my opinion, may have to be censored.
Meanwhile, MMM reports that Flickr is now totally blocked in the UAE, after it was blocked by one Internet provider.
Today, Du followed the lead of Etisalat and went ahead and blocked the photo sharing service Flickr, meaning that Flickr is now no longer accessible from the UAE through any of the ISPs.
I’m guessing it’s because of all the x-rated material that is available on Flickr. But, it’s not like blocking Flickr is going to stop people who look for that kind of material from finding it.
This totally sucks! All my photos are hosted on Flickr where I have a pro account, and now I’m unable to access my photos or upload any new ones because of this.
MMM also posts a photograph of the ban order: