x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Hitch blocks some sites on du network

Some internet users are denied their fix of celebrity gossip as 7DAYS and Flickr were hit by a technical glitch on the du network.

As Tom Cruise rolled into Dubai yesterday, some internet users were denied their fix of celebrity gossip as websites such as 7DAYS and Flickr were hit by a technical hitch on the du network.

The telecommunications operator mysteriously blocked article pages of the Dubai-based tabloid newspaper 7DAYS, and some residents complained that other sites, including parts of the file-sharing site Flickr, were not accessible.

"We seem to have problems with certain pages of our website on the du network," the newspaper said through its feed on Twitter, the social networking site. Executives at the newspaper declined to comment further.

The problem was specific to du.

"With regards to complaints from some customers to access certain websites, we would like to confirm that our team is doing an investigation to ascertain the likely cause," the operator said after receiving a flurry of complaints .

Twitter users also complained that other sites were blocked, including a personal blog.

Certain websites, such as those that contain images or material deemed culturally inappropriate, are blocked in the UAE.

A full ban on Flickr was lifted earlier this year, although yesterday the search function on the site was not accessible on the du network.

PK Gulati, an IT entrepreneur based in the UAE, said websites were blocked according to third-party databases, which flagged content for inappropriate material.

Mr Gulati added that "a completely innocuous site" could occasionally be blocked due to this automated process.

While the home page of the 7DAYSwebsite was accessible, the inner story pages were blocked for most of the day.

Users trying to access the pages received a message saying that "the site you are trying to access contains content that is prohibited".

The problem with the 7DAYS site had apparently been lifted by the evening but the search page on the Flickr website was still unavailable last night.

Sites are accessible in the UAE according to a policy set out by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, which sets out the reasons for blocking access to certain sites.

These include dating and gambling sites, and those that could enable criminal activity.

bflanagan@thenational.ae