Qatar Internet Restrictions: Is it All Doubletalk? Qatar Internet restrictions have surprised a lot of people, both locals and foreigners alike. And that’s primarily because the Qatari government has declared countless of times that the country is an "information-open zone". In fact, the moves to make Doha one of the most progressive and open cities in the Gulf region are really in support of the nation's call for liberalism and openness. Besides, almost half of the country is composed of foreigners, so many are expecting that there will be no censorship and monitoring of the Internet or any type of media.
The introduction of television satellite channel Al-Jazeera, a news organization that even employs foreign media personnel, was a bold move by the Qatari government to prove to the world that the state is serious in ensuring media and information freedom in the Gulf. In fact, many were glad that live debates regarding controversial issues are being aired in the network. Because of these big steps in allowing people to freely express themselves, many are now questioning the moves toward Qatar Internet restrictions. What's more puzzling is the fact that ever since Internet was introduced in the country in 1997 by state-owned Q-Tel Telecommunications Company (Qtel), the government has been encouraging more and more people to avail themselves of Internet connections in order to make Doha a media hub in the Middle East.
So, if the Qatari government has explicitly declared that it will neither do anything to block any web page on the Net nor censor any online content, then why are there issues about Qatar Internet restrictions? Some speculate that since there are no laws governing the Internet yet, authorities are using press law to deal with Internet content. The press law of the country prohibits anyone from dishonoring the Emir and publishing data that will be detrimental to national interests. Thus, it is likely that only sites containing data or materials that violate these two stipulations are being restricted.
The government's declaration that there will be no Qatar Internet restrictions is not what is happening at the moment, according to some citizens. There are still instances when individuals cannot browse websites that contain pornographic content because the sole Internet service provider in the country make use of a special program that blocks sites that provide inappropriate content. Some even say that Voice Over Internet Protocol may also not be available. Well, the best way that you can work around such restriction is by signing up for a VPN account. Click here for a VPN connection to bypass qatar internet restictions.
Inside Qatar, a monarchy located inside the Middle East, a location peaks out of the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula into the Persian Gulf named a Telecom company called Qtel. Qtel is short for Qatar Telecom and is the exclusive telecommunications provider in Qatar. It is one of the largest public companies in Qatar with about 2,000 employees.
Their mission statement is to be among the top twenty telecommunications companies in the world by 2020. They claim to practice democratic Internet censorship! Qtel censors the Internet by suppressing freedom of speech and deleting communicative materials they deem harmful, sensitive, subjective or inconvenient to the government. Qtel goal is to censor online pornography, political criticism of Gulf leaders and anti-Islamic sites. These sites are blocked for private and home users but do not affect businesses like Internet cafes. One issue is that young Qataris have been accused of frequenting Internet cafes to surf porn.
Qtel does not allow residents to surf the Internet without restrictions. They do not often block individual blogs sites, tweets and forum discussions. However, they do block gay and lesbian content, sexual health resources, dating and escort services, and privacy tools. Chat sites are also being blocked because they serve as a threat to Qtel’s monopoly of telephone services. Their goal is to censor sites that degrade their government and are Anti-Islamic.
Is this democratic censorship? Democracy includes two basic principles of equality and freedom. Where is the freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of political expression? These rights are essential so that citizens are fully informed about their country’s current affairs in their country and the world.
The right to freedom of speech is a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 and is recognized in International Human Right Law. Consisting of International Treaties & Customary International law within the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR commits its parties to respect the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Furthermore, freedom of speech is recognized in European, inter-American and African regional human rights law.
Who really has the right to censor the Internet? Is it the parents responsibily to censor what their children are viewing or is it the goverment’s responsibility? Who has the right to censor the world news or your religious views? Who has the right to determine what you need access to on the Internet? Is this not democratic censorship? This is a breach of privacy. Qtel does not have the right to block a surfers freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to life.
In conclusion, Qtel censors are not only blocking websites for their country, they are blocking websites hosted outside the country.