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Friday, June 12, 2009

UAE, Saudi among world's top website censors - project

by Neeraj Gangal

The UAE ranks high among countries that have blocked most websites, a recent report has revealed.

Internet users in the country reported the eleventh highest rate of blocked websites from among the countries in the world, according to the Herdict project.

Herdict is a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. It seeks to gain insight into what users around the world are experiencing in terms of web accessibility. As on June 12, 11am UAE time, UAE users reported that 509 different webpages were flagged as “inaccessible”, the Herdict Web project statistics revealed.

China is the most reported country when it comes to website censorship, according to the report. From among the Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia ranked at No.4. and Bahrain at No.6 in the top 10 slots.

A noteworthy aspect of the report is that the Western countries were equally vigilant about restricting websites. Germany was ranked at No.2, US at No.3, France at No.7, Australia at No.8 and the UK at No.9.

According to the website, Herdict is a portmanteau of 'herd' and 'verdict' and seeks to show the verdict of the users (the herd).
Speaking to the UAE’s The National newspaper, Jillian York, the social media manager for the project said that the websites that were found by UAE users to have been blocked ranged from pornography and dating websites to religious pages.

“But then, you also get some sites where you’ve got to wonder why they’re blocked – like Flickr.”

Top 10 countries that reported the most-restricted sites as on June 12, 11am, UAE time:

1. China (4,969)
2. Germany (6,972)
3. United States (5,162)
4. Saudi Arabia (2,364)
5. Iran (990)
6. Bahrain (1,004)
7. France (1,530)
8. Australia (911)
9. United Kingdom (1,237)
10. Philippines (909)

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