x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Ban on children using internet cafes during school hours a proposal at police forum

The topic of regulating the use of internet cafes across Abu Dhabi emirate arose at a forum led by Abu Dhabi’s Community Police Department.

Calls have been made for stricter regulation of internet cafes, in an attempt to safeguard children. Andrew Henderson / The National
Calls have been made for stricter regulation of internet cafes, in an attempt to safeguard children. Andrew Henderson / The National

ABU DHABI // Children could be banned from visiting internet cafes late at night or in school hours, under proposals being considered by police.

Regulating the use of internet cafes across the emirate was raised at a forum led by Abu Dhabi’s Community Police Department this week.

Ibrahim Al Hosani, director of media licensing at the National Media Council, recommended that children’s access to the cafes be restricted, as some games or social-media websites could be detrimental to them.

Lt Col Mubarak bin Muhairom, head of the Community Police Department, stressed the need to educate on appropriate use of the internet, especially among adolescents.

“This can be achieved by … establishing an authoritative set of rules and regulations for internet cafes, to prevent any attempts to bend the rules,” Lt Col bin Muhairom said.

He said regulations needed to be updated but acknowledged that internet cafes were important to the community.

“The regulations of the law and the stipulated conditions required to be met by those cafes need to be reviewed so as to ensure proper use of the internet,” Lt Col bin Muhairom said.

The forum was attended by representatives of Abu Dhabi Municipality, the Department of Economic Development, Etisalat, the Ministry of Labour, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and the National Media Council.

Sultan Al Saadi, deputy director of the Labour Inspections Department, supported a regulated licensing process.

And Lt Col Faisal Mohammed Al Shammari, director of the Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Centre, voiced concern about behaviour in internet cafes.

The topic of rules for internet cafes has been debated since 2009.

Back then some of the agencies that met this week discussed restricting the content of websites that breached UAE law by using proxy programmes with keywords to restrict content.

But even then there was concern that this could be circumvented with Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), where users access the internet through servers in other countries.

In 2012, a proposal to ban those aged under 18 from internet cafes was being investigated by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

At the time, the ministry’s child department director, Moza Al Shoomi, said: “We need to protect our children, especially young girls, from any abuse.

“These internet cafes are a danger zone.”

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