Further to yesterday’s post on Uber, there’s an interesting analogy with governments banning the service: the UAE government’s ban on VOIP calls.
The reason for this ban is succinctly explained in a comment on this forum:
In Dubai there are only two telecom service providers which are Du and Etisalat, Du has monopoly in Dubai and Etisalat has monopoly in Abu Dhabi, both of these service providers managed to convince government to stop Skype,facetime and whatsapp calling giving security reasons but in actual these service providers want to mint money because in UAE around 80% population is expat so they need ISD service and if these services can be availed through internet then these telecom providers would not be able to mint money.
In Simple terms to mint money they banned these services.
Naturally, as the commenter above says, the UAE government cited security concerns as a justification for the ban, claiming the VOIP services provided by the likes of Skype, WhatsApp and Facetime are not “secure” and don’t comply with the national telecoms regulations. This is why when you buy an Apple product in the UAE it doesn’t have the Facetime app loaded and it’s not accessible from the Apple store. I don’t know how they block users who already have it loaded, but they managed to block Skype over the fixed-line connections by detecting when it was in use. Most people I knew who lived there simply signed up to a VPN which bypassed all these restrictions.
As far as I can tell the ban is still in place but it’s becoming increasingly embarrassing for a country that is trying to present itself as ultra-modern and forward-thinking:
Internet restrictions in the UAE, especially banning video and voice calling through social networks such as Snapchat and Whatsapp has not only reportedly angered users living across the country, but also pushed Saeed Al Remeithi, the UAE Federal National Council’s (FNC) youngest member to query the country’s internet restrictions.
Remeithi voiced his opinion openly during an FNC session yesterday, saying that the UAE representatives were “embarrassed in the international federation by this issue,” citing the United Nations declaration that internet use is a human right.
However, Hamad Al Mansouri, the head of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority attributed these restrictions to state security and cyber-terrorism concerns saying: “The security factor is important in the country. If we neglect it, online calling will impose risks.”
And put a huge dent in the revenues of those with vested interests in the status quo, much like taxi drivers the world over.