Even if Qatar has its controversial news channel Al-Jazeera, its government still adheres to internet censorship especially on websites with pornographic content and those that contain anti-Islamic criticisms against the Gulf leaders.
Use and Access of Internet in Qatar
Qatar is the second most connected country in the Arab world with an increasing internet access at a rapid pace. However, because of parental controls over the internet, children are hindered from accessing and enrolling to the numerous e-education initiatives in the country. It also prevents the total embrace of the technology which is why Qatar is said to have a wide gap to children because of their parents. Also, Qatar’s Supreme Council for Communications and Information Technology (ictQatar) regulates internet authority in the country while Qatar Telecom (Qtel) provides telecommunications service in the country with license provided by the Supreme Council of Information and communication Technology. They provide fixed and mobile telecommunication services including access to internet.
Technology Used on Internet Censorship in Qatar
A report from the US State Department Human Rights said that Qatar uses a proxy server to censor internet access. This proxy server can monitor and block sites, chat rooms and even emails through an ISP owned by the state. However, it is noteworthy that there are no reports to document incidents of internet surveillance happening in Qatar. Although the use of VoIP services by individuals and businesses is allowed in Qatar, businesses cannot sell VoIP calls or services to the public without getting a license to be issued by ictQatar.
Websites that Are Blocked by Internet Censorship in Qatar
The government of Qatar openly acknowledges their internet censorship policy which is focused on websites with pornographic content and those which politically criticize Gulf countries and their political leaders. Websites that are said to have offensive content against Islam are also blocked. The ictQatar states that they do not recommend the blocking of sites to Qtel but rather, it is the Qtel that blocks websites based on the provisions issued by the law enforcement authorities. However, internet users in Qatar said that Qtel blocked certain websites even they do not contain pornographic or offensive contents. Complainants also share that there are websites that are blocked when accessed at home or in private while they are accessible to business users. To know more about the internet censorship in Qatar, visit the Qatar profile in OpenNet Initiative.
Ways to Bypass Internet Censorship in Qatar
Although a Proxy Server is used to block websites in Qatar, you can also use one to access them. There are even web proxies that are just websites that allows you to request for access to blocked websites. Virtual Private Networks however are much more secure and reliable because it uses tunneling protocols and encryption techniques. HideMyAss Pro VPN has been proven to be a reliable VPN with 256 VPN servers located in 47 countries. There are also other VPNs that have different rates and offers but eitherway, VPNs would still be a more secure option over Proxy Servers.