Dubai: Doha asks Google to reject censorship-DCMF

April 14, 2009

Doha Asks Google to Reject Censorship
Sara Kianpour
Doha Centre for Media Freedom: April 11, 2009

The Doha Centre for Media Freedom, alarmed by recent talks between Dubai police and Google, has sent an open letter to the Internet giant warning it not to give in to calls for censorship.

Chief Inspector Dhahi Khalfan Tamim of Dubai police and Giselle Hescuk, Google‘s head of development for Europe and the Middle East, met in March to draw up a censorship plan which the UAE authorities said would “maintain religious harmony and prevent any infringements of religious and ethnic integrity in the light of local culture and traditions”.

The authorities officially asked Hescuk to “restrict content that is pornographic, mocks religions, strengthens atheism, promotes new religions, fosters a feeling of insecurity or is unsuitable for young children”.

The Doha Centre said: “The measures put forward and the terms used are ambiguous enough to result in the strictest sort of censorship. The proposals are based on a list of 500 key words drawn up by the Dubai police which would block access to certain sites.”

The Centre called on Google and its subsidiary YouTube to reject the proposals.

“A company with the slogan ‘You can make money without doing evil’ and which is the world Internet leader has a moral obligation to take a stand on freedom of speech and act accordingly”, it said. “The greater the power, the greater the responsibilities.”

The Centre added that it was particularly concerned because the list of banned words had not been made public.

“Blackmail by the Dubai authorities is unacceptable. The United Arab Emirates cannot make any form of censorship a condition of access to the Internet.”

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