Qtel explains web censoring

Gulf Times has a story on their front page this morning about the Qtel filters. Here's the full text:

Qtel ‘goes by local laws’ in blocking websites

QATAR’S telecom regulator ictQATAR said it does not advise Qtel on blocking Internet sites.

“We don’t get involved in that. Qtel does it in accordance with the guidelines issued by the law-enforcing authorities in Qatar,” ictQATAR sources told Gulf Times yesterday.

Responding to some customer complaints which Gulf Times had brought to ictQATAR’s notice, the sources said: “Qtel can decide which sites need to be blocked. It is fully within its prerogative.”

Asked whether the enforcement authority would shift to the telecom regulator with a second operator entering the fray in a few months, ictQATAR sources said: “We cannot comment on that.”

Some Qtel customers had complained to Gulf Times that even non-obscene or non-offending websites were being blocked by Qtel.

A customer said: “I understand Qtel blocking some obscene sites or those which are grossly in violation of the local laws. But sometimes sites that provide useful information also get blocked.”

In Qatar web censorship revolved round three main areas; pornography, political criticism of Gulf countries and anti-Islamic sites, Qtel sources said.

“We go by the guidelines issued to us by the authorities concerned and are committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards and protecting our cultural values and traditions. As long as one lives in Qatar, one must respect its laws,” they said.

Source: http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=173496...

Comments

Qtel haven't answered the charge that they block sites which need not be blocked. My main beef with Qtel is their incompetence. I'm against web filtering, but if there are local rules, then Qtel should try at least to make a half-decent job of the implementation. Anyone can visit a search engine and search successfully for pornography. Many search engines even give previews of the images which aren't blocked. This seems to be a huge gap in the filter. Anyone can also search for radical political messages, and the search engines will usually provide a unfiltered cache of the text, even if the target site itself is filtered. This is another gap. Anyone can set up a secure tunnel that bypasses the filter entirely. It's not technically challenging, and the setup is very well documented. This is another gap. From my experience, Qtel doesn't unblock sites. When sites are blocked incorrectly, and there is no remedy, it encourages internet users to find methods to avoid the filters. This is another gap. --nigel
Anyone can set up a secure tunnel that bypasses the filter entirely. It's not technically challenging, and the setup is very well documented. This is another gap. Can you elaborate on this point.
Here's the problem from ictQatar's point of view. From what I've heard and read, Government policy is that censorship does not exist. If there's a filter blocking political content, ictQatar can say: "Well, it's up to Qtel what they block. There is no official policy to censor political dissent. Censorship does not exist in Qatar." However, when Qtel's monopoly ends on providing internet services, the lack of a filter would be a huge selling point for any new entrant into the market. Many of my friends would sign up to a service that offered an unfiltered internet connection. The telecoms regulator, ictQatar, would be stuck between having an uncensored ISP and providing guidelines for political censorship, neither of which would be particularly palatable. --nigel
There r still some free proxy sites unblocked that makes u surf anonymously .. and that is a bigger GAP ================================================ http://www.showcaseyourmusic.com/LittleGuitarist "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
u can use free P2P sharing programs and u can download unlimted of porn movies and pics and wutever cross ur mind .. and that is the Biggest GAP ================================================ http://www.showcaseyourmusic.com/LittleGuitarist "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
Sorry. I don't intend to put you in soup here. Your statement appeared vague.
> Can you elaborate on this point. I'm not going to give instructions of how to setup your computer to avoid the filters. But if you wanted to search for it, Google would very quickly direct you to resources for bypassing internet censorship.
Yes ngourlay now I get you point. Ram, I was wondering about the technical side which ngourlay has answered.
I'm not going to give instructions of how to setup your computer to avoid the filters. But if you wanted to search for it, Google would very quickly direct you to resources for bypassing internet censorship. I think you misinterpreted. Communication gap. I am not asking for instructions here. Anyways you have already answered my query in your next post. Cheers.
with the adsl dosent make any difference
> There r still some free proxy sites unblocked that makes > u surf anonymously .. and that is a bigger GAP Perhaps the biggest gap is that of all pornographic and politically dubious sites, only a tiny proportion are blocked by the filter. So you have to wonder what is the point of a filter if it doesn't stop the majority of the content it's meant to block.
its the law of the country if they find adding a filter better so it is but the more they try we get people posting wilder ideas to bypass
ngourlay..what do you want them to do... Block all access to .... I believe 75% of porn is blocked. And Technically you can block sites (which are IP addresses) but cannot block P2P as these keep changing. You have the option of giving Qtel the IP address of all the dirty sites & they block it promptly if they find it violating any laws. the only way to stop P2P is slow down the traffic to the speed of a dial-up line by which file sharing becomes unviable. But still you can download 100mb file in say a month!!!
I don't want Qtel to block anything, but it's not my decision. If you choose to live in a country, you should follow the local rules, and I'm willing to have my internet filtered if that's what the government wants. I was just pointing out that Qtel do an awful job of running the filter, and that political censorship seems to run contrary to stated government policy, which might be a problem for ictQatar.
The subject of 'building a better filter' reminds me of a presentation given by an official of Q-CERT before the summer. Q-CERT is the body responsible for internet security in Qatar (e.g. combating viruses, fraud, protecting banks and critical infrastructure). He was talking about the problems with image searching, using the example of searching for an image of a falcon. Apparently, there is a US stripper named falcon, whose image may appear in search results. He seemed to be pitching for the business of building a more intelligent web filter, or at least for some consulting work. Now, I'm happy for people to make money, but I'm not sure how many of his friends in the IT security community would think that censoring porn is part of their remit. I'm also sure that a more effective approach would be for parents to monitor their kids internet usage. --nigel
I got your point but ...I ll never complain about "bad-filter" As for the kids they will get to the porn no matter what.
> I believe 75% of porn is blocked. I don't have any figures to back up my belief that only a small proportion of pornographic sites are blocked, so let's agree that Qtel manages to block 75 per cent. According to the Internet filtering company N2H2, in 2002 there were over 260 million pornographic pages on the web. It's unlikely that the amount of porn has decreased over time. A search for 'xxx' on google returns 197 million results. You can see that even if only 25 per cent of this pornography is unblocked, it's a large enough volume to undermine the whole notion of porn filtering. A good question to ask is "who does the filter protect?" Sadly, Qtel and ictQatar weren't asked the question, and they don't respond to my emails. --nigel
I really hope etisalat doesn't do this bloking thing.
As per the rules there should be no censorship in Qatar but Q-tel, Gulf-Times, peninsula all censor news. Looks as if the rules are just to be written on papers where actually case is totally different. I was once talk to a guy who happened to be working in Gulf-Times and he told me that they have strict orders not to write the names of the companies (indirectly the shiekhs) who are involved in labor exploitation.
You hear a lot of talk about "self-censorship", but when you talk to the journalists involved, you realise that they are as clueless as the rest of us about what is acceptable, and what is not. They talk about a few "red lines" - topics that through past experience they know cannot be mentioned in print. Apart from these red lines, almost all international news is safe, and any local news that arrives in the form of a press release will be fine. Outside these safe areas, journalists have little idea which stories will land them in the lurch. What's even more confusing is that it might not be the story that is unacceptable, but the public reaction to the story. I heard from one friend about a crime story that got him into trouble; the article was reprinted on a discussion board and it produced a dozen comments suggesting that the detained man might receive a lenient sentence because of his nationality. It's impossible for journalists to predict the reaction to any given story, and so naturally most will err on the side of caution and remove any details from local stories that could lead to embarrassment for individuals or companies. --nigel
With an adolescent and curious child at home I prefer them to block these sites which may expose them to pornography too early. I know you can't keep them away from these things in the era of internet , but when they grow up and attain maturity they themselves can handle this type of stuff in a better way. [img_assist|nid=22259|title=Fruity..Kitty|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=135|height=180]
I prefer not to trust Qtel to protect my boy from porn. There's a reason most countries don't have these filters - they don't work. Unfortunately, filters are popular amongst parents because it means they don't have to watch what their kids are doing.
yes. shreya... what u said is correct. but we cant depend our ISP always. whey they try to block sites in one way, people will find more ways to get it indirectly. Since IT is very dynamic area, new new things and technologies are coming. And there are lots of people who are spending their time, may be as a hobby or some thing other, to bypass the filter or similar activities. so, its parents responsibility to keep their children away from GOING TOWARDS THE BAD SIDE OF INTERNET.
PLUS the human being nature doesn't like red lines .. so when u tell someone to stop at this line he will try to find ways to bypass it .. if u didn't may be he wouldn't mind it at all .. Let's retrieve the story of Adam and Eve .. when god permit for him every thing Except one thing .. Then Adam started to get curious about that ONE thing .. it's the human nature .. if we have this sites unblocked many of peoples will get bored of it and will never touch it .. but if they were blocked they will spend time and efforts to just bypass it .. it's sometimes the challenge of breaking rules and exceeding the red lines .. ================================================ http://www.showcaseyourmusic.com/LittleGuitarist "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
kim kim
If such companies try to reduce upload and download of pornographic materials in P2P sharewares by slowing down the process, does that mean that i am being short changed and instead of the 512kbps i am getting much less?
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