TRA outlines Illegality of VoIP unblocking site

Using VPN service as bad as pornography or movie piracy says TRA
TRA outlines Illegality of VoIP unblocking site
By Matthew Wade
Thu 08 Nov 2007 09:00 AM

A spokesperson for the UAE TRA today warned that the act of buying a subscription to gts-vpn.co.uk - a website and VoIP-unblocking site - was illegal, and therefore classed no differently by the authorities to the buying of pirate DVDs and pornography.

The site in question, gts-vpn.co.uk, has been advertising its services directly to users here in recent days via keyword Google ads. For $15 per month, the online firm offers access to a virtual private network (VPN)-based service with which users can, it's claimed, access blocked websites and services such as Skype.

"You can use VoIP like Skype in the UAE, you can access YouTube regardless of who has banned it, and you can read all the blogs you like, regardless of the political affiliations," the website's homepage states.

Speaking exclusively to Windows Middle East, a spokesperson for the UAE's telecommunications regulatory authority (TRA), warned that users should stay away from this site.

"Paying for this service is considered illegal in the UAE, the same as buying smuggled DVDs from people who knock on your door and offer you DVDs of films shown in the movies, or pornography," he commented. "Thus, it's a breach of the UAE law."

As for the possibility of blocking gts-vpn.com itself, he continued: "The UAE's licensed telecom operators (including the ISPs) have software that automatically blocks sites that have material considered illegal in the UAE according to the Telecom Law, such as those promoting alcohol, irreligious ideas, gambling, racism, terrorism, hatred, hacking, pornography, child abuse, nudity, etc. Yet some sites may escape the software; in this case when the TRA receives complaints from users regarding any site, we investigate it and if we find out that the site falls within the above-mentioned criteria, we issue an official letter to the service providers to block it and it will be blocked instantly."

"As for prosecuting the organisation, the TRA is the regulatory authority of the UAE, and not interested in fighting legal battles with outside entities, but rather interested only in the telecom sector of the UAE," the spokesman surmised.

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