One Man And His Web



censored website, UAE-style

So I've relocated for a few months, to an Arab country that shall not be named. My website, on the other hand, still lives in Newark, New Jersey, before traveling about. And I have a dilemma.

On arriving here, I checked my site and was greeted with the fact it is unavailable. Banned, sensored, deemed inappropriate.

Why?

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Silly me! Pretty obvious really. I advise people how to proxy, to circumnavigate censorship, to enable freedom of information. For instance, you can read about that in its most basic form, and watch the video, How to Surf Anonymously & Hide Your PC: Part 5 – Video How to: Set Up a Proxy.

Ironically, I have just written a series of posts about advanced proxying, the first of which – EASY Connect with a SOCKS/SSH Proxy Tunnel – is scheduled for publication later this month. That was written and scheduled for publication from my home in Spain and so no law has been broken. Subsequent tutorials, on the other hand, had best wait 'till I am back on info-liberal turf.

So What's The Legal Position? And The Moral One?

The moral position is subjective, so I guess there's no point even considering my side of that. After all, a judge is entitled to enforce values but a defendent is not. The moral issue, I guess, comes down to this: read and obey the Qur'an, as dictated by local government .. although in reality some Arab nations do bend the rules for westerners. After all, for example, were they not to show a modicum of tolerance, Dubai would remain a village. Then again, the waters are murky at best; how to define ‘modicum'? (One can be imprisoned for kissing one's wife in public. In reality, this is unlikely to happen, but it can and from what I have read it does happen.) Local expat forums talk about common sense a lot, which sounds to me like another way of saying, at worst, ‘get submissive' or, at best, ‘pot luck'.

And the legal position? I have no idea, and neither apparently does anyone else, else they do not publish such important business information in English. Having spent all of yesterday trawling the web – or those pages I could access, at least – I have no better idea now about the legality of using a proxy server here, although I gather that to provide a proxy service is illegal.

Because, of course, I can access my site, or any site, using my proxy server. I use the proxy all the time in Spain, largely out of habit, mainly because I do not especially trust our dear leaders, far less the masters that buy their office, with my data. Proxying is simple, stupid. Just pop open the terminal, type a single word and I'm there, wherever .. how tempting.

.. Hmmn, maybe proxying is just ‘stupid', in a country that sensors the web, and therefore that presumably wishes to disable those methods that open it up, by someone like me that doesn't just do it, but that writes about, encourages and facilitates it.

So Here's The Deal

Frankly, I do not want to end up in the middle of Midnight Express. And, however much my ideology differs from their's, the people of this nation state are my hosts and I must respect their laws. I will not kiss my wife in public – and damn I want to! – and I shall not use a proxy server, nor anything else that I suspect contravenes the laws, to access the internet, and even my site.

Updates to this site can be conducted by accessing directly the database via the command line (else a client), with no requirement for a proxy, nor a browser frontend. Cool.

Regarding content, while living here, I shall not write about anything that may land me in trouble. What is scheduled for publication already can do its thing, I will not stop it, but newly-written content must alow for local sensitivity. In other words, no more proxy posts .. and don't expect me to respond to proxy comments with anything other than a “real sorry, I can't advise you about this at this time.”

Silly, init. Or maybe we're just silly in the west. You be the judge. I cannot possibly comment.

One thing. I realise this post may enflame passions a little. Or a lot. (Tell me about it!) For those wishing to comment, for my benefit, and for that of guvnr and it's community, please refrain from using inflamatory language. For the sake of Allah, God, Buddha and whoever else you care to throw into the holy mix, the last thing I want to have to do is censor your comments. God's Teeth, no!

Right, 'nuff said.

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About the Author:

Olly Connelly (yeah, that's me) blogs at guvnr.com, polices WordPress security at wpCop.com and helps noobs build web servers at vpsBible.com, so if you've got sleeping problems you know where to come.

Discussion

  1. the_guv  October 28, 2009

    hey Ray .. cheers for your concern m8.

    hmmn, did I mention where I am? er, don’t think I will, just to be on the safe side. i have some how-to-proxy posts publishing at the moment and these are a little contra to the local mentality.

    .. then again, i have learned, it’s not so much the local culture to curtail free speech (other than porn, gambling and anti-religion) but is more a matter of the local, single, monopolising arse-wipe of a telco wishing to prevent those here from using more opensource means of communication, such as skype (banned), so they can flog their over-priced, under-performing data services. pidgeons anyone? 😛

    .. AND THEIR SERVICES ARE SH1T! damn, get this .. i’m using a 3g modem and it performs almost as bad as a 56k modem back in the UK 15 years ago. my oh my .. how i miss my 4mB/sec package back in Spain.

    here, it has taken me a week to do what back home would take me a few hours.

  2. Ray Whelan  October 28, 2009

    Wow – careful now, down with this sort of thing!
    Funny you mentioned Midnight Express – it was my first thought. The Guv certainly has his air miles! New Jersey!!!

    I thought UAE was a liberalised place – I guess not. Im absolutly no liberal myself – Im firmly stuck in the 80’s Ireland mentality concerning modern liberalism – but as well as a fairly low upper level of tolerance to change I also have a minimum limit of civilised behavior I expect. I guess I dont have enough money to buy the UAE level of freedom… If you must censor censor away as I have a tendency to upset people who dont like to be upset.

    Im off to cuddle my “Teddy Bear” as I feel all insecure as if Im being monitored, silly paranoia!

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